Tag Archives: movies

Monday Movie Mentions #5…

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

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Falkor – the cutest dragon in cinema.

I was never a great fan of fluffy fantasy movies, not then and not now, but this was different, although perhaps more importantly, I was different. It was probably the first movie in the genre that I really had an affection for.

Cinema was a lot more innocent in the early eighties, and The NeverEnding Story, which came out in 1984, was a product of that time. It was a golden period for my memories, and like a lot of families then, we had a library of movies that had been recorded onto video (back in the dark VHS days) and I probably wore the tracking out on this one more than any other.

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To avoid awkwardness, the Empress at a more appropriate age.

The fantastical plot appealed to me at the time. Bastian, running away from some school bullies, opens a mysterious and ancient book (in an even more mysterious bookstore) and, well… falls into the world created within. Who amongst us hasn’t wanted to do that at one time or another?

But it was the characters that made this adventure so enjoyable – from Falkor, the least frightening dragon in the history of everything, to the similarly soft Rock Biter, it was all very muppet-like. It was unashamedly a movie for kids.

And yes, just in case you bump into my sister, I’ll have to admit that I did fancy the Childlike Empress, the Queen of Fantasia, played by Tami Stronach… but even though she was just a little girl at the time, I was three years younger than her, so I should get a pass on that.

Typical – I always have liked older women.

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Monday Movie Mentions #4…

Eddie and the Cruisers II (1989)

All right, this may be an an obscure one. I’ve never been able to discuss this movie with anyone outside my own family because nobody else seems to have seen it.

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My dad was a singer – in much the same way that I’m a writer – and he loved this movie along with the prequel. The first one from 1983 is good, but the sequel, released six years later, speaks to me a little more. Neither are critical darlings, but both are cult favourites.

The arching narrative of the two films tells the story of legendary musician Eddie Wilson, who fakes his death in a car crash once his band makes it big in the sixties. Nobody sees or hears of him for twenty years, until he is discovered rekindling his love for the music in a seedy Canadian bar.

Rick: You said, “Play more intense!”
Eddie: Louder ain’t more intense.
Rick: Then what is? What is more intense?
Eddie: I was in the desert once, out in the middle of nowhere, absolutely nowhere. Just me, the sand and silence. But if you know what to listen for, it ain’t silent out there. I heard a music out there I never heard before. In the silence. That’s what I’m after, kid. That’s intense. You dig down deep and touch something like that, people are gonna listen. They’ll listen to you because you got something to say! Not just something to show. You understand?
Rick: Yeah, I think I know what you’re talking about.

The performances are not great, and there are elements of it that expose it as a low budget excursion, but Michael Pare is perfect in the central role, bringing an intensity and grit to his character that succeeds in elevating everyone else around him.

The soundtrack for both movies is performed by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, and it is fantastic. Video footage even exists of me and my sister in the late nineties lip-synching to this song – complete with me pretending to rock out on my electric guitar, and my sister playing a broom-saxophone.

Good times!

Monday Movie Mentions #3…

When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When I still lived at home in my early twenties, I changed the outgoing message on our answerphone to the infamous orgasm scene from this movie – you know, this one…

All these years later I still find it funny, even though my mum doesn’t seem to share the joke, especially as her mother had called from Australia one day and swiftly hung up because she thought she was… well, interrupting something.

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The morning after the night before…

But this movie is more than just a trailer for Meg Ryan’s two minute fake-out. If I’m asked to name my favourite romantic comedy, this is invariably the movie I offer up. It’s a genre traditionally aimed at females and is often loaded with sentimentality and somewhat safe humour.

While it’s fair to say that rom-coms have somewhat saturated the market in recent years, When Harry Met Sally… still feels fresh nearly thirty years on. Released in 1989, the movie manages to swerve the syrup and (for the most part) avoid the potholes of the genre.

Harry: Had my dream again where I’m making love, and the Olympic judges are watching. I’d nailed the compulsories, so this is it, the finals. I got a 9.8 from the Canadians, a perfect 10 from the Americans, and my mother, disguised as an East German judge, gave me a 5.6. Must have been the dismount.

Sure, everyone lives happily ever after by the time the credits roll, but the journey to get there feels real and earned, thanks to its biting and pointed social commentary – usually pitched perfectly by Billy Crystal.

Monday Movie Mentions #2…

House (1986)

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“Say your prayers.” Roger’s ex-wife gets a makeover.

Horror and comedy are polar opposites, and although a lot of movies have tried to marry the two genres, only a select few have managed to create something worthwhile.

House was released in 1986 and was the first in a disjointed quadrilogy of films. The series was somewhat unique in that there was no uniformity or overarching tone. But don’t bother with the others, and don’t let the generic title fool you – do yourself a favour and just watch this one.

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A great scene featuring former Miss World, Mary Stavin, in a bathing suit.

The special effects may be cheap and rubbery, but that’s because the movie never takes itself too seriously, and that’s okay. Horror doesn’t have to be realistic evicerations and computer-assisted effects that are indistinguishable from real life. Sometimes it’s all right for horror to just be a little bit of mindless fun.

The premise is simple. After his aunt commits suicide, divorced horror author Roger Cobb moves in to the house where his young son disappeared. Struggling to come to terms with that as he writes his next book about his experience in the Vietnam War, things start to go bump in the night.

Harold: Hey, it’s great to have a new neighbor. Woman lived here before you was nuts. Biggest bitch under the sun. Just a senile old hag really. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone just got fed up and offed her. Know what I mean?
Roger: She was my aunt.
Harold: Heart of gold though. Just uh, a saint really. And uh such a beautiful woman, for her age.

House is an underappreciated movie that has never been given the love it deserves, and you’ll probably have to speak to a lot of people before you find someone else who has seen it, but give this low budget gem a chance – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday Movie Mentions #1…

The Warriors (1979)

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The Warriors came out in 1979. It was one of my dad’s personal favourites, but he would never let me see it when I was a child. It was too violent, he said. Not for kids. This, of course, only added to its mystique.

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Would you want to be chased through a park at night by one of The Baseball Furies? No, me neither.

Years later when I was finally able to watch it I realised it was not quite the bloody extravaganza my dad had led me to believe. In fact, by modern standards it’s really very tame. But he was right about one thing – it’s a great movie.

Ostensibly, an action film about gang culture in New York, The Warriors – which rocks a brilliantly evocative seventies soundtrack – is nowhere near as dark as its reputation would have you believe, although it certainly has its brutal moments. The plot structure has a lot in common with video games, and follows the group of misfits as they travel from one borough to the next, battling gangs of varying abilities along the way, in the hope of trying to clear their tainted name.

Swan: You recognize them?
Fox: Orphans. So far down they’re not even on the map. Real low class.
Swan: Numbers?
Fox: Full strength: maybe thirty?
Vermin: Thirty. A lot more than eight.
Ajax: Not if they’re wimps!… and I’m sick of this running crap.

The Warriors is endlessly quotable, infinitely watchable, and has rightfully gained a cult following since its release. Definitely one to check out if you haven’t done so.

Can you dig it?

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things…

…well, not exactly.

Beginning tomorrow I’ll be starting a series of recommendations, four times a week, if for no other reason than it forces me to stick to a schedule with my blog, because I’ve been notoriously erratic with my updates lately. There will be a song each Sunday, a movie every Monday, a television show on Tuesday, and I’ll even throw in some fiction for Friday. What can I say? I’m a fan of alliteration.

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As I indicated, these are not necessarily my favourites, in fact I will be doing my best to steer clear of the obvious ones. There’s no fun in that. I want to focus on those examples that – for whatever reason – I have connected with over the years, so some of them may be obscure and will not resonate with others, but such is the beauty of art.

The world would be a boring place if we all liked ham and pineapple pizza, right?