Decades Blogathon – About Last Night (1986)

 

And of course, I extend the courtesy once more to my co-host Three Rows Back by re-blogging the article you can find over there today. Again, apologies for such a late turn-around here. Please don’t be mad at me. Pretty please?

three rows back

Featured Image -- 60321986We’re in the final(ish) straight of the Decades Blogathon – 6 edition – hosted by myself and the legend that is Tom from Digital Shortbread. The blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the sixth year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and today I’m pleased to welcome Gill from the colourfully titled Realweegiemidget, who rewinds back to the ’80s for About Last Night (1986).

In a bid to narrow it down to a specific movie and after much deliberation, I decided on reviewing a film I could gitter for 700+ words. Options included the much reviewed The Breakfast Club (1985) starring Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson – hell yeah, punches fist in air – or as my friend in blogging suggested a lesser known one – Oxford Blues (1984) with Rob…

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Decades Blogathon – Stand By Me (1986)

1986

 

My apologies for a late posting today, folks. But better late than never, right? Joining in the discussion today we have Courtney from On the Screen Reviews. That site is a great one to go to if you’re looking for a variety of film reviews and yearly Top Tens. Check it out if you haven’t already, you won’t be sorry! Thanks again for helping us make this blogathon a great one Courtney, the floor is yours! 


Three Rows Back and Digital Shortbread are hosting the Decades Blogathon, a 10(ish) day event in which film critics take a look at movies from different decades. This month we’re choosing films from any decade with the year ending in ‘6’ (given that it’s now 2016), and there’s no restrictions.

For my contribution, I’ve chosen to cover the coming-of-age classic that made the train dodge a timeless pastime, Stand by Me.

You guys wanna see a dead body . . . ?

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“I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in 1959, a long time ago, but only if you measure in term of years.”

With the overhaul of pre-teen movies that force your brain to regress in order to comprehend, it should be unanimously agreed that Stand by Me follows a blueprint of movie making that seems impossible to recreate. Recent movies like Super 8 attempted to capture youthful nostalgia, but didn’t dig deep enough to reach the gritty reality of adolescence. Stand by Me offers no gimmicks, no aliens, no gadgets, but raw human emotion.

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Stand by Me is a movie about four 12-year-old-boys living in a small town in Oregon around 1959 who go on a total boy adventure Labor Day weekend to find an undiscovered dead body. It’s narrated in present-day by a novelist (Richard Dreyfuss) who recalls the weekend that inspired his writing. (That old 80s computer tho! If that doesn’t resonate with you, I don’t know what will!!!)

Their weekend journey is the first taste of real life for the four boys and the last real taste of innocence; I think this is what resonates with viewers like myself the most. It eliminates the awkward introduction of girls into their lifestyle (because they haven’t reached that point in life yet), and focuses on more pertinent philosophical questions of that age like “Do you think Mighty Mouse can beat Superman?” Conversations around the campfire seem endless and pinky swears seem bound in blood.

The movie takes another risk filmmakers refuse to take today — it’s rated R! It’s unpretentious, hilarious and absolutely genuine with its plot and dialogue. Kids at the age of 12 are going to swear as much as this movie suggests, so why bleep it out? Stand by Me keeps it real, most notably with it’s script, which translates to some of the best scenes by young actors in cinematic history.

Here are some of my favorites scenes:

Teddy’s Freakout

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The movie really hones in on small town life and what it’s like to know everybody. In the junk yard scene where the crotchety man calls Teddy’s (Corey Feldman) father “a looney,” Teddy erupts, “I’m going to rip off your head and shit down your neck!” Firstly, what a creative and vulgarly descriptive insult! Teddy’s father allegedly stormed the beach at Normandy, and despite his father being total garbage to Teddy, he has the utmost respect for him. That’s commendable, and it unfolds layers of Teddy’s character that are deeper than one may anticipate. If it isn’t obvious, this movie really shows that boys have emotions too.

Kiefer Sutherland in any scene

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Kiefer Sutherland is a bona fide badass in this movie, and he’s one of the most believable assholes on screen in the 80s! It takes effort now-a-days to convince me that a character is the scum of the Earth, mostly due to poor acting or casting decisions, but Sutherland embodied every aspect of the sociopath Ace. Despite stealing every scene he’s in, the most character defining scene comes at the end where he affirms that he’s willing to kill a kid to get what he wants. Great acting and character embodiment by Sutherland. I would not fuck with him.

Train Dodge

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The train dodge scene is probably the scene most associated with the movie and one of my personal favorites. What I love about the train dodge is the giant metaphor being slammed in your face that the train is your life — it’s coming no matter what, and you damn sure better be ready for it. Not only is it one of the more hilarious, heart-pounding scenes, but it’s an affirmation that some kids can handle it and some can’t.

The Deer

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The deer scene comes as a breath of fresh air in-between dramatic scenes offering a reflection for both the character of Gordie and the audience. It showcases Gordie’s consciousness as a child in that he is in-tune with his creativity as an aspiring writer. There are also subtleties of the scene that I love — his smirk, the comic book he’s reading, the fact that no one else saw the deer and that he keeps the moment to himself . . . until now.

The Closing Scene

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“Chris did get out. He enrolled in the college-courses with me. And although it was hard, he gutted it out like he always did. He went onto college and eventually became a lawyer. Last week he entered a fast food restaurant. Just ahead of him, two men got into an argument. One of them pulled out a knife. Chris, who would always make the best peace tried to break it up. He was stabbed in the throat. He died almost instantly. Although I hadn’t seen him in more than ten years I know I’ll miss him forever.”

I think the last scene of the boys is probably one of the most relevant for the actors. The final shot of Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) walking into the distance slowly fading away is an eerie premonition of his actual fate of an overdose at the age of 23. The final scene really shows how friends grow apart in life, and that’s okay. The boys all have revelations that each is struggling with something whether it’s being bullied over weight or having an abusive parent . . . they all persevere and it shapes their characters. The character of Chris Chambers is one of my favorites, because despite coming from a crappy family situation, he had the ability to make his life better. It may sound cliche, but it shows the power of perseverance without the director making it overly showy.

This is a movie that resonates with me long after viewing and it’s really never left me.

Let me know your favorite scenes from the movie!  GIF 6


Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com 

Decades Blogathon – Top Gun (1986)

1986

 

I’m going to admit something embarrassing right now. I, uh. . . . yeah, I still haven’t seen the movie Rob, as in the one and only MovieRob, is about to talk about today. Not going to make excuses — I need to change this ASAP, and possibly rearrange my priorities on my Netflix queues, perhaps even start going to church more often — but first I’m going to let my friend Rob tell you why it’s worthy of the Decades blogathon. Rob, the floor is yours! 


top gun

“That was some of the best flying I’ve seen to date – right up to the part where you got killed.” – Jester

Number of Times Seen – Too many to count (Theater in ’86, cable, video, DVD, 8 Mar 2000 and 5 May 2016)

Brief Synopsis  Two top Naval fighter pilots are sent to a combat dog-fighting course in order to vie for the title of being the best team of pilots in the Navy

My Take on it – This movie came out 30 years ago and it still makes men, women, boys and girls want to be fighter pilots because of the way it depicts the glamour of it all.

The way that this film was shot makes us feel like we are in the plane itself and feel the jerking actions of the seat as we try and evade the enemy fighters.

The viewer actually feels like he/she is in the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat and we never want to get out because it’s so much fun being there.

The cats is great with Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Whip Hubley, Meg Ryan, Rick Rossevich, Tom Skerrit, Michael Ironside, Tim Robbins and Val Kilmer all doing wonderful jobs portraying the pilots and their significant others.

The one weak part of this film is the love story between Cruise and McGillis.  It’s pretty cold and doesn’t really genuine as it really should. (I heard that the stars hated each other, so that could contribute to the coldness.)

Cruise and Kilmer also apparently didn’t get along so that probably helped with their on screen rivalry.

The fact that the movie gets our adrenaline pumping so fast due to the aerial and combat footage helps make up for the lack of physical chemistry between the two leads.

This movie has an unbelievable soundtrack and the songs really help create each of the diverse atmospheres depicted in the film so perfectly.

Here are some of the songs:

Bottom Line Great film that makes everyone want to be a fighter pilot. Amazing aerial footage puts us right in the cockpit of those Tomcats and we never want to leave. The love story aspect is a bit weak, but the adrenaline that gets pumping in our veins by the combat footage more than makes up for it. Excellent cast. Amazing music that helps build the different atmospheres created throughout the movie. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The real Top Gun School gives a $5 fine to anyone in the staff that quotes the movie. (From IMDB)

Rating –  Oscar Worthy (9/10)

Decades Blogathon – She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

 

Be sure you don’t miss Movie Man Jackson’s take on the 1986 Spike Lee Joint ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ over on Three Rows Back!

three rows back

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Decades Blogathon — Labyrinth (1986)

1986

Greetings, and welcome back around to another edition of the Decades Blogathon! It is my pleasure getting to co-host this great event with Three Rows Back — a site if you are finding out about for the first time right now (or if it’s been awhile . . .) you must absolutely drop by. Mark is the reason this blogathon exists! 

Anywho, today I’d like to welcome Filmscorehunter, who’s the pen behind The Cinematic Frontier, a very user-friendly and diverse site featuring everything from reviews of films both new and old, to Blu-Ray recommendations to blogathon posts (just like this one!). Go on and pop around there if you like what you read here. Now let me step aside and let him take over . . . 


'Labyrinth' movie poster

Jim Henson brought joy and education to children and adults through TV programs such as Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock.  He eventually became involved in feature filmmaking as well (such as the first three Muppet movies; he made his directorial debut with 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper).  After co-directing 1982’s The Dark Crystal with Frank Oz, Henson next focused on another fantasy film that would require technical challenges that pushed the limits of special effects technology at the time (and would also be a musical).  I was fortunate enough to catch a midnight screening of Labyrinth three years ago on the big screen at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema during a visit to Atlanta, Georgia.  It was fun seeing it again after having seen it many years before on cable.  I was finally able to catch a midnight screening of the film a few months ago at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City, and it was a joy to see it once more on the big screen.  This review of Labyrinth is my entry in the Decades Blogathon hosted by Three Rows Back & Digital Shortbread.

1986’s Labyrinth follows a teenage girl who embarks on a quest to save her baby brother, who’s being held hostage by the Goblin King in his castle after she had originally wished for him to take her half-brother away.  Henson gathered together an impressive ensemble that includes Jennifer Connelly (as Sarah Williams), David Bowie (as Jareth the Goblin King), Toby Froud (as Toby Williams), Christopher Malcolm (as Robert Williams), Shelley Thompson (as Irene Williams), Brian Henson (as the voice of Hoggle), Ron Mueck (as the voice of Ludo), David Shaughnessy (as the voices of Sir Didymus and the Wiseman’s bird hat), Percy Edwards (as the voice of Ambrosius), Timothy Bateson (as the voice of the Worm), Michael Hordern (as the voice of the Wiseman), Denise Bryer (as the voice of the Junk Lady), David Healy (as the voice of the Right Door Knocker), Robert Beatty (as the voice of the Left Door Knocker), and Kevin Clash (as the voice of Firey #1).  Connelly gives an engaging performance as the young Sarah, who must undertake a physical and emotional journey through a labyrinth in order to get to the Goblin King’s castle.  Bowie is simultaneously cruel, seductive, and otherworldly as the Goblin King in a mesmerizing performance.

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The screenplay by Terry Jones explores a coming-of-age story influenced by The Wizard of Oz, Alice In Wonderland, Outside Over There, and Where the Wild Things Are.  Alex Thomson’s cinematography is beautiful, and Elliot Scott’s production design creates a diverse number of locations, including swamps, villages, and castle interiors (I especially loved the M.C. Escher-esque stairs and the Bog of Eternal Stench).  The costume designs by Brian Froud and Ellis Flyte are stunning (especially the ones featured in the ballroom sequence), and John Grover’s editing moves the film at a good pace.  The spectacular special effects are a seamless blend of practical effects, puppetry, and blue screen compositing.  Trevor Jones delivers an eclectic score that complements the songs contributed by Bowie (As the World Falls Down is my favorite song of the bunch).  Henson’s Labyrinth is a remarkable achievement that showcases an entertaining coming-of-age story as well as his boundless imagination.  Although not a box office success, it has developed a cult following over the last 30 years and is now a classic fantasy film.


Photo credits: http://www.brandedinthe80s.com; http://www.avclub.com

TBT: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

As we start setting our sights on the fall season, kids also have to start setting their sights on their homework and class schedules. I don’t. (Ha!) But that just means I’m of a certain age. So, in my ‘old age’ that’s not really old age but is fun to say old age because that’s just the excuse going around right now, I want to do some reflecting back on movies about school or that are about the education process. Some people might find this topic a little lame, and to those folks I say: go stick on a dunce cap and sit in the corner. 😉 My overly-confident-sounding tone is brought to you by

Today’s food for thought: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (wink) 

Ferris Buellers Day Off

Rudely interrupting parades in a completely unconvincing fashion since: June 11, 1986

[Netflix]

Some movies might just be better left in the past. After all, memories can last a lifetime. Sadly, there’s a caveat to that, as over time memories tend to start romanticizing rather than simply recalling events and experiences. Just because they may last forever doesn’t mean they necessarily remain accurate. While I wouldn’t say my memory has failed me when it comes to John Hughes’ too-cool-for-school comedy, I kind of regret going back to this movie. What was so wrong with keeping my memory of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off the way it was?

I don’t remember this kid being such a jerk and so entitled. I don’t remember the writing being so atrocious. Of course, I recall pretty much all the mischief he and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) got into over the course of a single day but Bueller’s allergy to altruistic behavior seems to be something that escaped Younger Me. Ah, Younger Me. Damn you for having things so easy. That me could just sit there and take a movie in and enjoy it. That me could appreciate a movie being just about playing hooky and nothing else. The plot’s still just as digestible and unobtrusive, built out of simple pleasures, like getting to flip the middle finger to those in authority. Now, simplicity actually draws attention to other things.

After so much time you start to realize how many scenes have been parodied past the point of recognition. You are more familiar with the parodies than the original scene(s), although this is by no means the fault of Hughes or his cast. Over time the tone of said parody has also changed. What were once reverential spoofs have become innumerable opportunities to cash in on trendiness. When Cameron’s scream echoed throughout all of Chicago, having realized how many miles they had just put on his father’s Ferrari by driving it around all day, I had to remind myself that what I was watching was the actual scene; this wasn’t a parody.

In some ways Ferris Bueller is a parody of life at the teenage level. Wanting to skip a day of school remains a timeless, fairly universal experience — I’m pretty sure I faked being sick once or twice — and the character continues to represent that part of us that wishes we had more control over the things we don’t want to deal with. In the annals of cinema history he’s a hero for his principled stand. And for pulling one over mom and dad — though this is much less impressive when he’s raised by parents only slightly more capable than Bam Margera’s. This time Hughes is nauseatingly optimistic, far more concentrated on getting as far away from the doldrums of high school where poor Ferris heretofore has had to suffer years of being generally well-liked. Woe as him.

Unlike much of Hughes’ work, Ferris Bueller is far more screwball comedy than coming-of-age. In fact it’s actually more akin to fantasy than comedy. Everything comes together so perfectly (for Ferris, not so much for poor Cameron or Jeffrey Jones’ Principal Rooney) and despite developments that threaten to derail the perfect day — losing the Ferrari temporarily to someone posing as a valet driver who takes it for a joy ride; almost getting caught on TV while at a baseball game; an extremely determined Principal Rooney hot on Ferris’ heels — there’s never any doubt that things will work out. There is very little conflict and even less consequence: we never get to hear the conversation Cameron has with his dad; never see what becomes of Ferris’ classmates rallying behind him, hoping that he makes a speedy recovery from ‘being sick;’ never get to find out why these parents are just so . . . bad at parenting.

Gee golly willickers, I find myself sharing Jeanie’s point of view now more than Ferris’. (And also my dear friend Zoe’s. Feel alone no longer, Zoe, for I too share some of your pain in watching this movie. 😉 ) Like his sister I’ve always been amazed at the things Ferris manages to get away with without being remotely apologetic. I’m not sure how I feel about comparing myself to this person because, as I’ve found, I regard Jeanie as a bit of a bitch. Of course, it’s nothing that a quick make-out session with a visibly stoned Charlie Sheen at the police station can’t cure. Maybe I, too, should have made out with him, thus allowing myself to enjoy some time off from movie watching with an embittered, overly judgmental mindset. Maybe then I would be able to still look at this creation as art instead of artifice.

Recommendation: I have confirmed this is one of those movies I enjoyed far more as a wee lad, and not so much as a jaded adult. Kind of sad, right? It’s not that I find Ferris a rather unlikable fella (I think many can agree on that point), but I remembered this movie being just a little bit more believable. John Hughes constructs such a ridiculous series of events, suggesting if you plan to skip out on school (or work) you better have other, far more elaborate plans to enact lest you completely waste that day. A movie that’s far easier (and fun) to buy into as a kid than an adult.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 103 mins.

TBTrivia: After working together on Weird Science (1985), John Hughes offered Bill Paxton the role of the garage attendant. Paxton turned it down because he felt the role was too small. He admits that he regrets turning it down because Hughes never offered him a role again. 

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.allposters.com; http://www.imdb.com 

TBT: Stand By Me (1986)

So since I couldn’t get my act together and decide on a theme for this month’s TBT reviews, we’re going to have another one of those random picks months, and that’s okay I guess because it’s only September. Plenty of time before the year’s out to make good on coming up with a scheduled list of films to watch and review for this feature. Today we have a good one. . . if you like movies about kids walking down railroad tracks, that is. (I do. I like those kinds of movies.) 

Today’s food for thought: Stand By Me.

Stand By Me movie poster

Looking for a dead body since: Friday, August 22, 1986

[Netflix]

Rob Reiner, channeling his strongest nostalgic tendencies, created a wonderful coming-of-age drama with the tale of four boys set out on their own to find the body of a missing local teen. As was the case with his masterpiece The Princess Bride, Stand By Me yearns for a simpler time when kids could just be free to roam, and other than worrying about the dropping of the nuclear bomb, adults had a slightly less pessimistic worldview.

Of course, his adaptation of the Stephen King novel — the most feel-good of all the King adaptations — wasn’t about the grown-ups. In fact, with the exception of the framing device of an older Gordie Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss) reflecting back on his childhood adventures after seeing a newspaper article about the death of one of his friends, a few short clips of Gordie’s parents and an old, crusty junkyard owner the film was essentially driven by child actors. An impressive feat, given how good the acting is; how deep the camaraderie between this ragtag group of boys goes.

We meet all four in a treehouse, where Gordie (Wil Wheaton), his best bud Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), the outspoken Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), and the chubby, nervous and generally irritating Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) are discussing the possibility of going out to find the body of a kid who went missing from their town of Castle Rock some time recently. Vern, having broached the subject, claims he got the idea after overhearing his older brother and his obnoxious friend talking about it. It takes these kids but a few minutes to decide that they want to be the ones who uncover the body. After all, they could become local heroes because of it. Over the next two days, they embark on a journey down a railroad line, an adventure that encompasses their collective past, present and future.

Stand By Me is aggressively enjoyable. From astute performances from such young actors to the simplistic yet creative setting, Reiner found a perfect mixture of tone and tempo in his lamenting over the fact that childhood is a bubble that pops far too easily. The film had to rely heavily on the camaraderie of our explorers in order to overcome the monotony of sticking to a never-ending railroad track while also depending on precise editing and a variety of scene changes so that the whole enterprise didn’t feel experimental. It’s pretty successful on all fronts.

Reiner’s use of the railroad linking the boys to a destiny marked by danger and loss of innocence was a stroke of genius. Rather than manifesting as an obligatory check list of items that needed to be ticked because of preconceived notions of what a coming-of-age drama is (or was), the events that come to define Stand By Me occur naturally and as close to extemporaneously as the most polished version of a script could possibly allow. The scrapyard break-in, the bridge crossing debacle, the leech-infested swamp — none of these eye-opening moments would have been possible if the story were told after-the-fact in that treehouse, or from any quaint locale in Castle Rock for that matter.

The film isn’t free of cliches of course. Personal fears of a mostly familial nature run the gamut from being unable to escape the past — the Chambers being widely known for their alcoholism and criminal activity — to being inadequate in a family (Gordie considers the loss of his older brother Denny to be the last time he felt any kind of attention from his parents) and to being psychologically and emotionally traumatized in an abusive household, as was the case for Teddy whose father was a war vet suffering from PTSD. It’s all stuff we’ve encountered before in these movies but familiar ground does not contribute to an overly familiar expedition.

Ultimately the film has the advantage of being even more interesting if we put ourselves in these kids’ shoes. If given the opportunity as a child to see a dead body, would we? At what age does the sanctity of a human life strike someone, and is it the same for everyone? What would a weekend trip like this do to us? If we were in their shoes, would we be tempted to kick Kiefer Sutherland’s ass? Stand By Me may have offered Sutherland one of his most ridiculous roles as a punk teenager on the hunt for the same kind of infamy as these boys, though it is far more memorable because of its investment in the preciousness of childhood, and being able to pinpoint the precise moment at which boys are no longer boys.

Recommendation: Stand By Me is a classic coming-of-ager, told through Rob Reiner’s sensitivity and deft humor. It’s also highly nostalgic for the years where not much seemed to matter apart from getting into trouble with your friends in the summer. Oh yeah, I guess this was set in the 50’s so you always had to keep an eye out for that dreaded nuclear bomb. I guess there was that. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 89 mins.

Quoted: “At the beginning of the school year, Vern had buried a quart jar of pennies underneath his house. He drew a treasure map so he could find them again. A week later, his mom cleaned out his room and threw away the map. Vern had been trying to find those pennies for nine months. Nine months, man. You didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.imdb.com