Saturday, July 28, 2012

Risky Business

This is a really personal blog entry so it may get a bit longish, just to warn you ahead of time.

I was probably maybe seven or so years old when I first caught Risky Business late one night on HBO. I have been an insomniac at times for most of my life. Stress has been a constant bedfellow--but most of us have discomforting events that truly sneak away bits of our happiness. That's not what this is about, I promise you. Christianne had mentioned in a review for Friday the 13th that HBO used to show a lot of their saucier, more adult features later into the night, early morning, and I happened to know this all too well, all too young. I think there is that specific moment, for man and woman, that we first experience arousal. A woman or a man comes across the screen, whether heightened by movie magic, a wind machine, music that has the right type of theme that resonates alongside the image, but primarily by how they project a certain sexiness, their body with the right type of figure that appeals to you, and arousal awakens something in you that only continues into those hormonal teenage years. Teenagers and sex. Risky Business, like a lot of movies in the 80s, looks at the marriage of teenagers and sex, the awkwardness of "the first time", how we talk about it, dream about it, desire it, and then the time comes, perhaps not exactly as you imagined. But, I admit that I prefer to delight in the image, because a lot of the time, what is real is never quite as fulfilling as what the fantasy presents.

Rebecca De Mornay. She was my first object of arousal. Oh, far beyond an object, she embodied the lust that overwhelmed me upon first glance. Her first appearance in Risky Business, I won't forget. I don't want to. It is all performance, by De Mornay, by director Brickman, by Tangerine Dream, the movie presents her to a surprised Joel Goodsen, about to have his world rocked. I guess as a teenager, like so many others, I wanted, desired, the same kind of experience. It is all performance, though, Risky Business, the very next morning, grounds Joel back into reality as he must now come up with the moolah to pay for such an experience.

This co-worker was riding to work with me. She is a liberal Mohawk from Canada, and found herself down here in conservative bible-belt Mississippi. She was refreshing to talk to because her point of view isn't shared by many I know. We were talking about movies and sex (trust me, these are topics I don't normally discuss with anyone around these parts), and she told me that why I find petite blonds of a certain type arousing in particular stems from my first glimpse of De Mornay as a kid while sneaking a peek of Risky Business.

We were talking about this movie and I mentioned that while for many years this related to me more as a upheaval of events in the short time parents are away on this teen, and how amazingly he survives by the skin of his teeth. Mostly, it wasn't about Tom Cruise, for me personally, it was how all-encompassing De Mornay's spell cast over me.


What we talked about was something I pondered while watching the movie more recently. I noticed that De Mornay had all the power, using her feminine wiles, her sexual prowess to escape from Guido, the pimp so she could go into business for herself. Cruise was, I guess, her way out, you could say. I found an image of "sex on a train at midnight" that speaks volumes about who was in control. Cruise doesn't look like he's even doing anything while De Mornay seems to declare him as the greatest lover ever. Who ultimately has control in the bedroom? That what really arouses me, though, the woman in control. Who really was in charge of the pimping business that left Guido for a bit? Was it Cruise? Or was it De Mornay? Damn, I loved her outfit, in the hat and coat, walking around Goodsen's parents' house as if she owned the place, completely in charge. When Goodsen was led to the train...who was in charge? She was.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I have been putting together my own website, when time permits, and I was thinking about my ten favorite horror films. I have been always expressed my love for Universal, the 20s through the 50s (I love the B giant monster movies as well), and of Karloff and Lugosi. For years and years Hitchcock's Psycho has held the top place in my horror heart but here lately I have been thinking about The Black Cat. Every year in October, it has become tradition to watch The Black Cat at some point. I consider it a privilege to own the Lugosi set which has this movie and a growing favorite, The Raven (I think Lugosi is so much fun as the diabolical torture devices Poe admirer, just tormenting poor Karloff; that scene where he laughs hysterically because of Karloff's surgically altered face, horrifying and repulsive, I just sit back and cherish his delicious sadism, it is amazing  what filmmakers used to get past censors), along with Murders of the Rue Morgue (this is one of my all-time favorite Lugosi performances, only outdone by his Igor from Son of Frankenstein and Dracula), The Invisible Ray, and Black Friday. It is a joy to know I can pop in any one of those movies and each film offers something different.

I consider Karloff in The Black Cat even more unsettling than in The Body Snatcher. Because he makes your skin crawl. Lugosi is fascinating to me because he speaks confidently, deliberate in speech, articulating in that iconic accent, what Poelzig has done to him, and you can feel the hate, the optimism that his revenge will come. I guess a lot of horror fans find the *chess match* quite compelling. I love films that say multiple things, the person speaks yet only two men know what the other means while the less interesting characters listen on often in bewilderment. I love Lugosi is the hero, in the sense that next to Karloff he's damn near a saint although his scene relishing the thought of skinning his foe alive can test just how sympathetic we can be towards him. I love the director, Ulmer, and the way he shoots the film, almost everything reeks of decadence and death, just the way I like my movies visually. The use of shadow, it is important to me that a film's setting speaks out to me. I appreciate Ulmer's work here. The fact that he is working with such legends only underlines why this film encapsulates me so.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Machine Girl

I finally watched this movie after the dvd has been sitting in my bedroom in various places for the last few years. I wrote down some thoughts, a review of sorts of the bloody violent movie. There are a lot of scenes of faces with holes; come to think of it, there are a lot of holes, and missing bits and pieces, plentiful mutilation from the likes of throwing stars, swords, and a home made machine gun. There's this scene that I couldn't help but laugh at where the Yakuza boss "recruits" the mourning parents of their talented ninja children who serviced the heroine as machine gun chow. Here was a collection of things that formulated watching the film.


To kind of get the plot out of the way (since, this is more about over the top sadism and bloodshed than hitting you in the gut with a potent story, although the frame work of revenge due to the loss of the only person you have left in the world is presented as a means to understand why our heroine (well, we cheer her since the alternative is so reprehensible and despicable) is so fueled with anger, exacting a wave of violence so extreme, I couldn’t help but giggle), a Yakuza gangster’s son (and son’s brood of heathens) inflicts harm and terror on the brother of a high school teen girl, bullying the innocent kid just because he enjoys it. So the girl loses her innocence as a result of her brother’s unfortunate demise, leading a rage-filled guerilla assault on the Yakuza, with lots of blood geysers and hacked limbs, not to mention faces and heads eviscerated by a particular multi-barreled machine gun.

The formula is what it is. There is a reason for why the heroine is so unrelenting in meting out her brand of justice for the slain brother who didn’t deserve his fate. The villains should be absurdly cold blooded, to the point that there’s no conscience or feeling, so irredeemable and guilt-less, they can slit the throat of a maid for only doing her job (she inadvertently enters the prayer room while her master is “having a moment” with his equally repellent son (he opens a cut on his arm while son drinks his blood in a ceremonial type occasion!) or bury our heroine’s hand in cooking grease after trying to pummel her with a golf club.
Of course our “machine girl” loses not only her innocence, but her parents committed suicide because of their defamation of character (labeled murderers by the community) and now her brother is dropped off a balcony by Yakuza boy and his scumbucket gang. Thus, what does she have left but her revenge? She has nothing else to lose except her life and what is it without a family? Be damned those that stand in her way.
There were times, like with Ichi the Killer, where I could do nothing but take the sadistic cruelty and unhinged (but with a straight-faced efficiency) behavior but sit there, letting it all pass before my eyes without putting too much stock into it all. I mean, seriously, the Yakuza family (pop, son, and especially the mother who is the most warped-in-the-head of the trio) capture the heroine before she almost seals the deal on the little nihilistic bastard  (his form of gloating is the psychopathic stare and blank expression, like mother like son), handcuff her in a dungeon, slice off her fingers and one arm almost at the elbow with a sword, her cries of agony overshadowed by the gallons of blood spray that literally drowns out the camera lens.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Darkchylde

Does John have it in him? Scott and I were talking about The Ward in Christianne's What Horror Movies Did You Watch Last Week thread On Sunday night after I had posted to his weekly line-up review for the last movie Carpenter directed. He had mentioned like others that The Ward just was not a return to form as he so hoped, and I recall that sentiment quite common among many horror fans, a general consensus lamenting that perhaps he doesn't have another great one in him. I guess some directors would like to have just one great horror film, so if Carpenter never makes another film, at least he has that. It was funny, I didn't know Carpenter contributed to the soundtrack of Planet Terror--I guess I will have to pop that dvd in one night and give a listen. I think I will watch The Ward this week, although it looks like more overtime at work could cause complications. If anything I can gaze at Amber Heard for a while...

Regarding this blog entry's title movie, I know that its origins derive from a comic character, but I'm not familiar with the character or her adventures, so there will be no expectations in that regard.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hardware

You know, certain films just stay with you after that first viewing. Maybe it is the marriage of music and image; those scenes where our heroine does battle with a machine that repaired itself with the parts available to it, especially in the shower, left quite an impression on me.

I have admitted in the past that rips from movies like Robocop, The Terminator, and Alien (among others) are irresistible to me. Maybe it is because I respond to low budget variations on themes that interest me. The man-made machine that rebels against its programming, the fusing of man and machine, the innovative methods of survival when man has no choice but to protect himself against those he creates, etc. I also respond well to films where it is a woman who must protect herself against what man creates. Alien opened doors for female heroines, and I think sexy, capable, strong women in the roles often occupied by men appeals to me. The actress in this film, Stacey Travis is her name I think, I couldn't take my eyes off her. Director Stanley just knows how to shoot her face, setting up compositions that cast a spell on me. I guess some would say the movie is a bit too dark. I just picked up the double-disc special edition dvd today, almost purchasing the blu-ray, so I'm hoping for a quality print.

The harsh voice of Iggy Pop and the repetitive but catchy score that really sets off the close of the film, I was quite excited after watching the movie, although I started reading reviews from others who consider Hardware rather familiar and contrived, too alike others of its ilk. I guess this is right, but I just liked the way it piggybacks on the ideas of films like Mad Max proclaiming a world gone to hell, economic collapse, pollution, starvation, and Hardware does this well I felt. Is it any different than Steel Dawn? Perhaps not. It just comments on themes other films did before it and if it did it badly I guess Hardware wouldn't have remained with me. It is a wee bit better than Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn, at least.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Green Lantern

I bought this blind a few months ago on blu-ray. Walmart had the Extended cut for $7.50 so I thought that even if it wasn't that great, what harm have I seriously done? I have noticed its reputation is not that great and I'm not a fan of Ryan Reynolds, but it is said to have nice visual effects (the screen bleeds green). I haven't been that inspired to watch it yet because of its reputation, but I might find myself surprised just because my expectations are so low.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Future Bond

Just to establish it right here, I will be posting a lot about Bond movies and my experiences with them afresh on this blog, just letting those who pass by know ahead of time. I have had some wonderful fun with some of the movies I have seen in full or bits and pieces.

While it wasn't on par with other Bond movies, I didn't really hate or even dislike License to Kill. Sure it felt like the Bond version of Lethal Weapon, considering it is a Latin drug cartel targeted and the motive behind 007's agenda is revenge, I have to say that Lowell was fetching; I liked her spunk and I don't give a shit what other Bond fans feel, I flat dig Timothy Dalton as 007.

Bond, James Bond

Encore has used July as Bond Month this year, where a Bond movie comes on every night on Encore during the entire month at 7:00 pm Central. What I always get giddy about is that once this is over, a Bond movie shows up all over the package of Encore channels afterward. I just love the fact that a Bond movie could be on at any time I turn to one of the Encore channels. Life (particularly, family life) sometimes interferes with the ability to just sit and watch them in full, but what I saw of Octopussy was actually a pleasant surprise. I don't remember watching this one much as a kid, even though I'm sure it played on HBO all the time; View to a Kill, considered by Bond fans to be one of the worst of the franchise (although, I guess I am in the minority, because I always enjoy it, even if I admit it is one of the weaker entries; nostalgia dictates I will always be drawn to it), was on regular rotation back in the day. Octopussy just doesn't let up, man. It has everything and then some. Sure, I imagine James Bond disguised as a clown makes certain Bond fans cringe, but there's this kick ass train sequence and another action sequence on top of a Cessna that had me completely jovial. There's a scene where an assassin is hired to kill Bond while he's in bed with Octopussy (Maud Adams, who I thought was even sexier in Man with the Golden Gun), and his weapon of choice is a band saw blade on a rope that functions as a yo-yo in that its master can pull and extend it at will!

I have to say that while it may be considered minor Bond, Man with the Golden Gun is one of my favorite Bond movies. I can watch it over and over and never tire of it. I think part of it is because of the villains, Maud Adams and Britt Ekland both serve as some of the best eye candy my sweet tooth could ask for, and that car-plane hybrid (colored in gold, of course), plus Lee's solar power laser installation located in a Hawaiian island fortress, are just pleasures to behold. Hervé Villechaize and Christopher Lee are such colorful villains; I enjoy the fact that these two are such a team. I guess it is an improvement over one of my least favorite Bond flicks, Live and Let Die, but each Bond fan has their favorites and least favorites.

I was watching Never Say Never Again and while seeing Connery making out with a young Basinger might have been a wee bit creepy to me, he's in such impeccable shape and is so fun to watch as an older, more vulnerable 007, I was caught up in the movie. I didn't think it was all that great, when compared to a Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, or even Thunderball, but Connery facing off with Carrera, quite a female psychopath with an enormous ego and joy in her criminal handiwork, was a hoot. Carrera may be one of my favorite female "Bond conquests" of the entire series. I thought that one scene was funny where she demands that Bond write down that she was his *#1* before she shoots him! She insists that her reputation as his best lay be in print, signed by 007 himself. I think this is rather amusing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nah. I didn't necessarily mind the industrial score, Nispel has a flair for the visual, the way the camera captures a lot in a scene, the set pieces involving Jason's childhood home, and even the principles aren't all that bad--especially considering the usual casts who occupy these movies--but I dunno, it just lacks a certain charm. There was plenty of tits, a protracted erotic-less sex scene, water-skiing without a top, all of this accompanying Jason's predatory pursuit of college student targets. Mears, as Jason, is all business, nothing behind the hockey mask exists but menace. I thought he was good. I think you do what you can when wearing the hockey mask. Some are just walking stuntmen, but occasionally you get some personality and specific movements, gestures, and posture that speaks when no voice is present.

I won't bitch about the nit-picky stuff like how Jason built that underground installation (was he selling some of the dope to afford it?), why he would bother kidnapping the girl (before he noticed a passing resemblance between her and his mother), and how would he survive at the end only to pull his "wait for it, wait for it, now!" rise of the watery depths to finish what he started just so the opportunity for a sequel could be afforded. Good use of a woodchipper although this movie sure doesn't rival Fargo in the grisly violent death regard. There was a funny line regarding a hockey stick.

I'm on the fence about it. I can live with or without it.
I just want to let off a little steam here...don't show me a fuckin' band saw up close in a tool shed if you don't plan to use it; damned cockteasers. I don't  know, I guess I'll let them off the hook, dude does get  it in the throat slowly with a screwdriver.

This makes me sound like a psychopath, doesn't it? Us slasher fans are quite the critix.
I may not care much for the movie, but this image is  going up on my blog somewhere.


The 2009 remake

However I  may feel about the movie as a whole, there are a couple of kill sequences I thought were pretty righteous. The arrow through the head comes out of nowhere to that poor bloke driving the motorboat and the machete stab to the head while the female victim is hiding under a pier is really effective without being overtly gory (it's the sound effect that I think sells it, but the pull of the blade which thrusts the girl's head knocking against the wood is rather holy crap; it just flat worked for me, I guess). I have to say, though, that the discovery of the hockey mask was uninspired. I remember watching  this scene in the theater feeling rather annoyed that this was the best they could come up with. I tell you I still remain awestruck by the one scene where the machete-to-the-head girl sees Jason from afar while trying to keep her bearings after that bad ass boat slam to the head that left her disoriented for a moment. Director Marcus Nispel has his Jaws moment shooting Willa Ford's swimming legs underwater; I guess tributes have to be made to Spielberg if you have a soon-to-be-dead-meat babe wholly vulnerable in the middle of a lake (or body of water, whatever it may be). I don't know. For some reason, there's no spirit of fun to this movie. Even Jason X and Freddy vs. Jason seemed to capture a love for dumb "dead teenagers" movies I grew up with, but Friday the 13th just feels like a movie built to earn a large sum of money.

Friday the 13th

Non fans of the slasher series will probably just pay little attention to this "holiday for Jason fans" but I often ponder which of the movies I will watch during the later night when the kids are safely tucked away in their beds and I am finally free to check out something that doesn't challenge me. Yes, I grew up watching the movies and they were a tradition during my birthday hangovers when buddies and cousins would spend the night (if only Mama knew, haha). So, for better or for worse, I watched them all the time. I may pick the second film (one of my favorites) and the remake (I have only watched it the one time in the theaters) for tonight's viewing. We'll see.

I plan to drop a little blog entry on Bond and Encore's July month showings of most of the entire series (exceptions being the Daniel Craig duo, two I didn't really care that much for anyway). I have plenty to say, but time has run out at the moment.

Werewolf-The Series and other ramblings.

I happened to stumble upon this while messing around on Youtube. I have a few of them. The series was short-lived and probably not as good as one would hope, but I believe I watched some of them when Direct TV's Chiller channel was showing them. Chuck Connors is this evil werewolf who took everything away from a young man--his family, I think--and the kid is out for revenge. I think the show also follows the young man as he hunts for Connors. I think Connors pops up from time to time, but the show was more of a weekly adventure where the kid goes from place to place, a journeyman with no home, only a quest for revenge. Most of the episodes appear to be on Youtube so I look forward to watching them and adding user reviews on imdb.com. I haven't really checked to see what movies will be playing at the local theaters this weekend. Probably the same stuff as last week but after getting burned by Savages, I'm not sure I won't just stay home. I'm really kind of yearning for something old in the collection I haven't watched yet. I have a lot of horror movies that have been saved for just the right mood. It is always nice to know you have stuff ready if the mood strikes. It is strange, though. With October still months away, I find myself wanting to save several of older horror movies for then, but to deprive one's self for that long seems silly.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Any of you remember the Meg Ryan thriller, "In the Cut"?

I was at Blockbuster, kind of scanning through the aisles of the Drama section because for some strange reason thrillers aren't given their own section which is odd to me, and noticed In the Cut a movie that was rather notorious if I remember for being a Meg Ryan movie noted for its provocative, dark nature. That, I must admit, is what attracted me to it, renting it for the week (my Blockbuster Brick and Morter has a deal where you can rent 7 old releases for seven days for 7 bucks). If I'm correct, this really set Ryan's career back, never to quite recover. We were talking about Ryan at work, getting on a conversation about her stemming from, of all movies, the Eugene Levy/John Candy comedy, Armed and Dangerous (yes, I enjoy it, so sue me), and the fact she had work done on her face became a notable topic. I hate when looks becomes a part of a conversation in an actress' work, but sometimes plastic surgery and its ill effects on people who star in the movies does carry some relevance.

Here was an advertisement for the dvd release...

Oh, a couple more things...

I was ironing my clothes for tomorrow, and a few details I would like to add while they are on my mind.

*Oliver Stone is in love with Lively's face and if you find her beautiful then you are in luck because he is persistent in shooting her up close practically the entire movie. Like the two men in her life, Lively is covered in tattoos.

*Oliver Stone uses the Sunset Boulevard narrative technique where Lively explains to us that she may not be alive even though she's communicating this film's story to us. Ugh.

*Stone incorporates a lot of heightened dramatic music for the heroes but I cared so little about them that this had no effect on me.

*I know: this is a drug movie and explains this in the trailers. I was just hoping for something profound. Ha, in retrospect, it's my own fault. I deserve to lose my money on this movie.

Savages

Well, that sucked. I wish I could get a refund. Look, I'm just flat tired of seeing people smoke pot in redundancy for an entire film. Yes, this deals with the volatile nature of the relationship between drugs and violence. The two normally come hand in hand. Does Oliver Stone break any new ground? Oh, man, that voice over from Blake Lively made my ears bleed, and her delivery had about as much life as corpse on a slab. Del Toro is just an unstable lunatic who has a mania on his face the entire time he appears on screen. He has an uneasy fixation on Lively once she is captured. The plot consists of two drug dealers/suppliers with marijuana that has a potency unlike any other crop, seeds brought from Afghanistan by one of the two buddies who purposely enlisted in the Navy Seals just to score the dope. Lively fucks both of them, loves them, and revels in what their lifestyle affords the trio. Stone, as you might imagine, protects Lively, meaning she doesn't appear naked while screwing around with both actors, so anyone hoping for that will be sorely disappointed. Damn, if that Selma Hayek isn't one fine woman. She sure can cut off the emotional filters when it comes to those who earn her wrath, torture and beheadings steady outcomes for those who cross her in one way or another. I'm honest, this is just another run-of-the-mill drug movie. Nothing special. The heroes of this film (are they, really?) decide to strike back at Hayek who wants to bully her struggling cartel (it has fallen on hard times since a member of her crime family split to form his own) into their financially lucrative business by kidnapping Lively. They keep her in a gross living quarters (it looks like a dilapidated trailer) containing crappy furniture and a bed enclosed inside a fenced cage. Del Toro is always there to feed her, spend time with her, even providing smoke from dope mouth-to-mouth (yes, there is a line of spit shared between the two, yuck). There's plenty of violence. A head caves in after a sniper hit, one poor fellow is whipped so badly his face is barely recognizable and his eyeball is hanging out (after admitting his betrayal, which isn't true since one of the American "heroes" sets him up thanks to their sophisticated network of tech nerds, he's set on fire!), and one of two endings has a lot of people left dead from a gunfight right out of the OK Coral (Stone actually shoots this in the desert with accompanying spaghetti western music). John Travolta pops up as a shady DEA agent working all sides (his means of manipulating Del Toro, who seems to be preparing to kill him and his daughters is quite masterful) and how he plays a hand in the final conclusion when the two heroes kidnap Hayek's daughter for an exchange to get back Lively is rather clever. So it has its moments, but not enough to having warranted me spending 10 bucks on a movie ticket. How the three seem to slither out of their predicament I didn't buy for one second; I don't think they would be able to orchestrate all of this to their advantage. I think this movie hinges on that actually...do you believe these guys could pull off a feisty back-and-forth with a drug cartel? I didn't.

Fright Night, off the top


Well, I did watch the Fright Night remake early this morning, and I will make a comment or two now with perhaps more to say this afternoon. I have to say that despite having zero expectations, it entertained me. I think it was the cast. I loved the girlfriend of Charley Brewster. She has a winning personality, witty and has a cool sense of humor (the actress has good timing, which I also liked), doesn’t act a snob, and her knack for interplay with others (knowing just what to say and when to say it) is something I adore. Okay, enough of her. I liked the Yelchin kid a lot. I really did. He is a subtle actor; even when he tries to tell others about Jerry, the neighborhood vampire, there’s disbelief in his voice because it is even hard for him to accept what is going on. Is the remake spectacular? I didn’t think so. It has recycled vampire scenes from other movies and the ending is as predictable as I expected it to be. Tennent is a hoot; I really found his approach to the magician theatrical guy, right out of the Chris Angel/David Blaine school of presentation, in regards to his Peter Vincent character appropriate for this generation where the need to wow an audience takes precedent over the truth: that his parents were killed and he has built his life around the performance of a cartoon character right out of that horrible Hugh Jackman Van Helsing movie, as to insulate himself from the past. Colin Farrell as the hunky bloodsucker oozes bravado and thrives on the conquest, the capture, and the feast. These were just a few of the instant thoughts that sprang out of the brain. I hope to have more later in the afternoon. We’ll see. Plenty of CGI, though, especially when those turned hit too much sunlight…


Imogen Poots, that is her name. She's got spunk. And how she's willing to get it on with a reluctant Yelchin, me likes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oxford Blues(1984)-Scarecrow's 80s Nostalgia

This blog entry is really a rough draft with little editing so it will probably read pretty poorly. I like having a blog to just kind of present my writing with warts and all. Does it "call me out"? Sure, it does. I don't consider myself a brilliant writer, just someone who has a lot on his mind after certain movies and a desire to articulate my feelings about them hot off the press. I have read through some of it, cringing at certain portions ("...overall cool gal." Yikes.), so I realize myself this entry has its share of problems. I kind of like the idea that others can see what spills out of me before any sort of real *cutting free* takes place. But, all in all, I just appreciate anyone who might be interested in anything I write.


Rob Lowe vehicle in the fish out of water formula dramatic college kid angst comedy where he portrays a young man from Vegas who finds himself at Oxford in Great Britain trying to juggle an academic career to prove his pops wrong, alienating some of the uptight, scholarly types who study in the school while making buddies with others. His brashness does kind of usurp success as he aims to hook up with Lady Victoria, the daughter of Oxford’s highest ranking member, Doctor Ambrose (Michael Gough), living in a castle not far from the school. Victoria’s boyfriend, Colin Gilchrist Fisher (Julian Sands), isn’t favorable of Lowe’s Nick De Angelo trying to take his girl. Who could blame him really? Actually, Colin is at first made to look like a stuck-up snobbish tool, but really he wants this American upstart, coming in all cocky and mouthing off to respect the college and its reputation. 

There are rules and an order and Nick is a bit too self-indulgent, caring about what he wants, what he can get out of the Oxford experience, and how he can benefit from the school. Obviously rowing is presented with a lot of love and Nick is a good oarsman so he could be an asset to Oxford in their chance to avenge a 25 year loss to Harvard. Colin though is actually not really a bad guy and comes to Nick asking for his help in rowing against Harvard (it is a two-man per boat contest). Colin just impresses to Nick that Oxford, rowing, Victoria all deserve to be treated in jest. Nick is in love with Vicky; she isn’t just a lay. But Vicky and Colin is an item and, at the most, Nick is her way to regain her man’s attention (they haven’t been talking). Nick joins a team reluctant to take him and he will have to train hard to get into the kind of shape it would take to beat Colin in rowing. The team actually starts to win races as a result. But his interest in Vicky will cost his team a chance to beat Colin, and when you fail your team and they get rid of you there are no second chances; it is a rule they do not break (but rules are always made to be broken). 

Nick’s true nemesis is Gareth Rycroft who just doesn’t like him because he’s American and seems to get away with a lot. Gareth just needs to get Nick “sent down” by the Oxford elite, the professors within a tribunal who can expel your from the school if rules are broken. Of course, this movie has the other girl we know Nick really belongs with but fails to see she digs him, another American, Rona (Ally Sheedy). Rona is feisty, energetic, easy-going, easy to talk to, and just an overall cool gal. But Nick  tells Vicky she is why he came to Oxford, read about her back home, so Rona is “his drinking buddy” until the time comes when he realizes the girl for him all along was right around him. I think Oxford Blues believes it is important to establish the difficulties accustoming one’s self to his new surroundings, and, most importantly, realizing that he will need to evaluate his attitude towards others, what it means to give to others without expecting anything in return.

This was a favorite of mine from childhood and Encore Love has been showing it periodically. I often find myself right in the middle of the movie, right about the scene where Nick receives an invite from Victoria (it is actually placed on his door by Lionel (a young Cary Elwes) at the request of Gareth (fuming from Nick who walks on him after he was hit in the nuts by Rona), and his night with the girl ends in the two having sexual relations in her bedroom. This interferes with the boat race that gets him kicked off his Oriel rowing team. I have to admit, I was a big Rob Lowe fanboy growing up. I thought he was cool, had a look, charisma, and way with girls I admired. I was right the opposite so movies like Oxford Blues were of constant viewing. It’s just fun, if anything, a total nostalgic break; I take nostalgic trips all the time. Do I believe Nick's chances of making it at Oxford are realistic? Nope, but this is all fantasy, I guess. I figure even if Nick was dedicated and driven to do well in his classes, he'd still fail to rise up to the impossible standards set in a school like Oxford.

I would hate not to mention Alan Howard who has a nice part as Nick’s counselor or tutor, someone who Nick can depend on to debate over how to behave, the importance of his studies, and the best ways to learn life’s lessons while attending Oxford. In essence, to grow as a human being. I guess, there are those who see this as a hunk of 80s shit, or simply as another excuse to give Lowe a star vehicle (the Brat Pack, some feel, were perhaps too overexposed and shoved down audience’s throats). I have watched it over and over, continuing to find myself unable to turn it away if my remove control comes across it. If anything, I certainly understand why Rob was so enamored with the lovely Amanda Pays, quite a beauty with an accent to match.

It wasn’t too long ago that I watched White Water Summer; plan to again because it had me smiling from ear to ear. I would love to write a blog essay on a series  of 80s films that I come across. I dunno. Maybe some time.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Savages

I actually might go see this simply because of Hayek and especially Benecio Del Toro. I bet those two play their roles to the hilt, Mexican Cartel who aren't  afraid to resort to body mutilation and decapitation (from what I've read) to prove the point that they will kill your ass if conditional surrender of the drug trade isn't negotiated. I do think  Lively is easy on the eyes, but I'm not overly familiar with her work. I like the idea of two American druggies taking on a cartel and Oliver Stone's style and sledgehammer approach to material might enforce that Savages will live up to its title. I don't know when I will be able to see it. The missus is having to work overtime Saturday and I'm watching the kids (this is a blog and I will treat it as such, so I hope my personal life's intrusion doesn't turn you off) so finding time to watch a movie can be difficult under the circumstances. My colleagues in the office tell me Spiderman was actually surprisingly good, but I am kind of burnt out on the comic character after the first two Raimi movies (I haven't watched the third one but thought about picking up the bargain basement $5 version found on display in Wally). Savages is the one I would prefer to see, to tell you the truth.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Paranormal Activity 2

This is kind of a working draft for the imdb review I plan to drop tomorrow. I will definitely need to trim this down so that it can be more accessible, but the beauty of this blog is to include all that came off the top immediately after the viewing.


Watching the extended cut was probably not the wisest choice. It takes a while to get to the good stuff. I guess, the whole point is to build to the big scenes, but it seems to take nearly thirty minutes before even the first demonic paranormal event occurs. The twist regarding the demon’s purpose and why its attracted to baby Hunter is pretty much laid out in this “prequel” to the first Paranormal Activity, in regards to making a deal with a demon in exchange for wealth, the first blood male to be given to the demon. Daniel who owns a chain of Burger Kings and his new wife, Kristi, bring newborn Hunter home, enjoying him with his teenage daughter from a previous relationship (it is hinted that mom has died), Ali. Seemingly harmless events start to happen. The pool cleaner is found outside the pool in the morning. A pot falls in the kitchen from its hanger. The beloved pet dog senses a presence. Martine, the Spanish maid knows the presence is “ bad spirits” and attempts to rid the home of them with burnt incense shaping the smoke in the form of the crucifix, but Daniel puts a stop to it right away, perhaps the worst mistake he could have made. Soon, however, the situation with the demon gets worse: a pan sets on fire, a door shuts on Ali while she’s outside seeing who was knocking at the front door, Hunter lifted out of bed by *it* (in this scene which had me mortified, being a father and all, we watch as Hunter leaves the room, not knowing what awaits the baby) so the baby could walk down stairs to “free it” from the basement. Soon Hunter’s dog protector is hospitalized by the demon, with Kristi herself, in a harrowing scene I’m sure lifted butts out of theater seats, being dragged by it down the stairs, eventually pulled into the basement for hours while Daniel and Ali were at the vet. Fully possessed, Martine is brought in by Daniel to try and rid the home of its bad mojo, but she informs him that he can only save Kristi by having the demon transfer into her sister, a blood relative. Reluctant but determined to save his family, Daniel will decide to do this, but his believing the demon, despite fleeing Kristi, will be gone once removed from its vessel, no longer to target Hunter, may not go according to plan.  The money scene, I figure, most will remember besides the demon drag down the stairs, is the kitchen cabinet doors all popping open (with all the pans falling) while Kristi is sitting at the table. Doors open by themselves and the scenes with the baby in his crib as the dog notices something inside the room might also deliver chills aimed to creep out the audience. Daniel’s disbelief in his daughter and wife’s claims of “ghosts” plaguing the home is not surprising and it is only when he views footage from the security cameras installed throughout his home and pool that his skepticism is challenged. The cameras were installed after the family comes home on day finding their house in shambles, furniture and objects, personal possessions and such, overturned and in disarray…this certainly sets the stage, although it feels like eternity before Paranormal Activity 2 starts to deliver what it promises in the trailers. . I have to say that the ending packs quite a wallop and ties well with Paranormal Activity.

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...