Tag Archives: movies

(Im)mature Students…

I went to the cinema last night with The Girlfriend© to see Shazam! (review inbound), but for a hot minute it looked like we were more likely to be spending the next couple of hours explaining ourselves to the cops than watching the latest hero in the DC Universe.

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Ticket prices here in Aberdeen are very expensive – to the point where we sometimes get a little creative with the purchasing of said tickets. I’m not proud of it, but we have been known to buy cinema tickets online and do so as students, because we save about £3 each that way. It’s not much, I know, but it is a system that is so easy to exploit (and nobody ever checks the tickets) that it almost seems like the purchasing option has been set up specifically for people to do just that. And although I’m sure we are not the only ones who have done it, I do appreciate that is no excuse either.

So we have got away with it maybe half a dozen times in the past, except last night the young female ticket collector – who admittedly, was only doing her job – did check our credentials.

She asked The Girlfriend© for her identification, and when she wasn’t able to produce any, she asked what course she was studying at university. The Girlfriend© – to her credit, was quick on her feet, and blurted out her son’s chosen vocation of midwifery – but was (of course) not able to show the ticket collector any emails or correspondence to prove her case.

I was asked the same questions, and I chose to go with the actual course I studied at university of Law & Management. Afterwards I figured if I was going to be lying anyway, perhaps I should have been a little more ambitious with my response, but in the moment it’s not always simple to be clever or cute. I guess I could also have thrown The Girlfriend© under the bus and explained that I was perfectly happy to pay the extra, and that I had nothing to do with the fraudulent purchase… but that would not have made for a pleasant remainder of the evening.

I am absolutely convinced that the ticket girl did not believe a word of what we told her, but she let us in anyway – probably just to avoid any escalation of the situation.

Suffice to say, the movie was good, but I spent a good portion of it expecting the manager to flip up the lights, and bring in a couple of heavy-set security guards to toss us out.

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Please Stop Remaking My Childhood…

220px-fridaythe13th2009The release this week of Pet Sematary is just the latest example of the lack of creativity in Hollywood today. Admittedly, it’s been getting great reviews, and the original was an average movie at best, but I don’t think there were many people screaming for it to be revisited in the first place. Well, perhaps Stephen King was on board with it, but he’s certainly not averse to the odd retake anyway.

ghostbusters_2016_film_posterI guess, if we must see things a second time, the very least a filmmaker can do is polish up something that wasn’t very good in the first place. The object of the exercise should be to improve upon the source material. If it isn’t, why are you wasting everyone’s time?

Point-Break-2015-Poster-Advance-Style-buy-original-movie-posters-at-starstillsOf course, there are some examples where the revision is better than the first try (Scarface, The Thing, The Fly), but for every smile there’s a frown. Does anyone think Jude Law’s version of Alfie is superior to Michael Caine’s effort? Or that the Poltergeist from 2015 is greater than the classic 1982 movie it’s based on? Hell, I didn’t even know that was a thing until recently.

MV5BN2ZiMDMzYWItNDllZC00ZmRmLWI1YzktM2M5M2ZmZDg1OGNlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDQ2MTMzODA@._V1_So, with all the remakes, reboots and reimaginings that have done the rounds over the last few years, here are ten properties (not exhaustive, by any means) that I never want to see redone, because I do not believe it is possible for them to be bettered:

  • Airplane!
  • Back to the Future
  • Die Hard
  • Duel
  • Dirty Harry
  • First Blood
  • The Goonies
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Jaws
  • Rocky

Let me be clear: these are not perfect movies. Some of them I wouldn’t even consider to be amongst my favourites. But every one of them is an example of how sometimes, the total package is greater than the sum of a production’s parts.

These movies are quite simply, lightning in a bottle – a confluence of facets and factors that cannot be repeated. They each have an intangible quality that is impossible to quantify, or to replicate a generation later, no matter how talented or dedicated the team working on it may be.

Potted Retro Film Review: Risky Business (1983)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano

What’s it all about?
Cruise plays Joel, a suburban teenager who is on the one hand trying to get into college, but on the other, is just your typically horny kid whose primary concern is to get laid by a prostitute when his parents are away. Cue Lana, played by a sweet, butter-wouldn’t-melt Rebecca De Mornay.

The story escalates from one night of no-strings sex, to a stolen glass egg, to eventually Joel using his parents’ home as a makeshift brothel for a whole fleet of Lana’s colleagues to make some money. There’s a Porsche, a disgruntled pimp (called Guido, of course), and the whole thing is underpinned by the blossoming romance between Joel and Lana.

There are no real surprises here. There are some fun scenes, and the dialogue is on point, but it feels nothing like the benchmark title it is often considered to be. Cruise is on good early form, before he became a megastar a couple of years after this; and De Mornay is, well… she looks good, at least.

Watching it with the kids…
There are a couple of sex scenes here that you’ll want to avoid, and some stylised full frontal female nudity, done in the way that only a film made in the eighties could truly pull off. There’s also some bad language throughout. All things considered, given the reputation this has for my generation, it’s really very tame.

Verdict…
It had been many years since I last saw Risky Business, before this recent viewing. Was it as good as I remembered? No. For a comedy it’s not all that funny, and as a coming-of-age piece it has very few dramatic moments. I never feel the chemistry between Cruise and De Mornay, and their burgeoning relationship is clumsy and awkward at best. But as an early example of what the eighties was pushing in the teen genre – and before the market was flooded with this kind of thing – it’s hard to deny its influence and raw energy.

Recommended (slightly) ↑

Potted Film Review: Tag (2018)

Starring: Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Burgess, Jeremy Renner.

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What’s it all about?
If you weren’t told at the beginning of this ludicrous comedy that Tag was based on a true story, you’d never guess… because it’s too damn silly to be real. Even when the credits roll, and we see snippets of the real-life friendship that inspired this lunacy, it’s still pretty hard to believe.

The story follows a group of five men who have played tag for the entire month of March since they were young enough for that not to be considered childish. The hook, is that Jerry (Jeremy Renner) is a tag legend, and has never been caught in over thirty years of playing, and with the threat of Jerry’s retirement from their annual event hanging over their heads, the other four decide to give it one final push to make him it. Hijinks and hilarity ensues.

Everybody here is very comfortable in their roles, and that’s because nobody is too far outside their wheelhouse. Ed Helms is basically a more restrained version of his character from The Hangover franchise, and Jake Johnson is a cut and paste job from his role as Nick in quirky sitcom, New Girl, but although familiarity is sometimes criticised as laziness or paint-by-numbers, it’s quickly evident that this is simply good casting.

Watching it with the kids…
Oddly, for this sub-genre of comedy, Tag doesn’t try to be overly offensive or shocking, which is a welcome change. Sure, it’s peppered with strong language, but there is no violence beyond the slapstick, and no sex or nudity at all, so no curling up behind the sofa cushions is required.

Verdict…
Tag is a fun movie that knows it is based on a daft premise. It’s not the cleverest movie you’ll ever see, but it does boast some inventive scenes as the guys try to outsmart Jerry and back him into a corner. Everyone on screen seems to be enjoying themselves, even when the script threatens to become a little too sentimental towards the end, but I had a good time all the way through.

Recommended ↑

Yippee Kiy Yay…

The best Christmas movie there has ever been (yes, I’ll fight you on it), and the quintessential action movie that every other is still trying to follow, was first screened in the UK thirty years ago today.

Hell, it is quite possibly the greatest movie of all time. In any genre. Full stop. I am of course, talking about Die Hard.

“Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.”

Three decades on, and its simple but effective premise has yet to be bettered. The sequels, er…  try hard to recapture that initial glory, and the franchise occasionally even comes close to hitting that big screen G-spot with some of the set pieces that follow, but the original eighties classic stands alone – as tall and proud as the iconic Nakatomi Plaza itself.




Monday Movie Mentions #12…

Enter the Dragon (1973)

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Bruce Lee was a cinematic superhero – truly larger than life, which is ironic as he stood 5 foot 8 inches and weighed a mere 140 pounds. He only starred in four movies* before his premature death at the age of thirty-two, but he left behind a legacy that is as great today as it ever was. He is often referred to as the father of mixed martial arts, because what he was doing then – when nobody else was – is big business now.

Yeah, it’s true: I’ve got a bit of a man-crush.

My dad performed taekwondo to a very high standard for several years, and his fingerprints are all over the genesis of my enjoyment of Bruce Lee… although I never saw my dad bust out the nunchuks the way Lee does in Enter the Dragon.

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The biggest problem with this movie (in fact, all of Lee’s movies) is that he never seems in any real danger of getting his ass kicked. Even if you suspend your disbelief, it’s hard to forget that he is far and away the best fighter on screen, and you know that the bad guy is going to need more than #spoiler# a removable claw-hand to take him down.

Lee died six days before the movie was released to the world, so he never saw it become the seminal piece that it is considered today. Enter the Dragon certainly benefits from its Hollywood production, and although in many ways his earlier Hong Kong movies are more brutal and graphic, as a total package it’s hard to deny Lee’s masterwork its place in history.

*Yes, for you aficionados out there, I said four movies. The abomination that is Game of Death doesn’t count… and you guys will know why.

Monday Movie Mentions #11…

Bronco Billy (1980)

v1.bTsxMTYxNDQ5OTtqOzE3NTA0OzEyMDA7NDk1OzY2MAAbout twenty years ago there was a seemingly endless festival of Clint Eastwood movies on TV – this was, of course, back when people still watched TV. It was during this time that I was introduced to a lot of his performances – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Bad joke, I know.

As director as well as lead actor, Bronco Billy is one of the handful of movies where Clint managed to shoehorn his long-time love interest Sondra Locke into the mix. She always felt surplus to requirements for me, and no matter what else she has done in her career, her legacy will always and only be as Clint Eastwood’s girl.

Bronco Billy is far from Clint’s most well known film, and I can name a dozen off the top of my head that are better, but it is somewhat of a forgotten minor gem in his vast catalogue. It’s a light comedy in which Clint riffs on his long-standing cowboy persona in an old-fashioned travelling circus, as the self-proclaimed ‘fastest gun in the West’.

Antoinette: Have you ever been married?
Bronco Billy: Sure. A long time ago.
Antoinette: Did you love her?
Bronco Billy: With all my heart. Sometimes that just isn’t enough.
Antoinette: What happened?
Bronco Billy: I caught her in bed with my best friend.
Antoinette: What did you do to him?
Bronco Billy: I shot her.
Antoinette: What! What about him?
Bronco Billy: He was my best friend!

So, why do I remember fondly watching Bronco Billy from a run on television two decades ago? It’s a metaphor for where I was in my life: a simple movie that reminds me of a simpler time. And sometimes, the memory and the smile is enough.