Happy Halloween! I thought I’d share a few tidbits about three (of many!) things I loved in the Eighties: The Lost Boys, Amazing Stories & Ghostbusters.
First up is some fun Ghostbusters artwork. There was an art show in Los Angeles last night called “No Ghost Logos” in which artists paid tribute to the Ghostbusters logo creator, Michael C. Gross. Each artist did their own take on the Ghostbusters logo. You can check some of them out here: GeekTyrant.
Next is an interesting article I read about my all-time favorite vampire movie: The Lost Boys. You can read the article, “How The Lost Boys made vampires sexy way before Buffy or Twilight” here: gamesradar.
Finally, I just read some news that I’m very excited about! I absolutely loved Steven Spielberg’s TV series Amazing Stories and wish it had run much longer than it did. Luckily, it looks like it’s being revived all these years later by Bryan Fuller. Fuller is responsible for shows such as Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal. Well, damn – I’ve not watched any of those shows. Also, Spielberg won’t be involved with this new Amazing Stories series. Hmm. Okay, I’m still excited although I really don’t know what to expect. (You can read the Geek Tyrant article about it HERE).
Amazing Stories was a collection of odd & often supernatural stories each week and while some weren’t great, the good ones were fantastic. The episodes had very big name stars and it looks like pretty much all of them are available to be watched in full on YouTube. Three that I’d recommend are The Mission starring Kevin Costner & Lost Boy Kiefer Sutherland (this is probably the most famous episode – watch it HERE) and a war one called No Day At The Beach starring Charlie Sheen (HERE) and a cute Halloween-y one called Mummy, Daddy (HERE).
Being the age I am, however, my personal favorite was Head Of The Class directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Christopher Lloyd, Mary Stuart Masterson & Scott Coffey (after which the two young stars were also together in a John Hughes favorite of mine: Some Kind Of Wonderful). It’s another one that’s perfect for Halloween! Here’s the IMDB plot synopsis:
In this hour-long episode, a teenage horror buff (Coffey) is so smitten with a sexy classmate (Masterson) that he helps her use black magic on their loathsome English teacher, with shocking and bewildering results.
Here are three more mini-reviews of movies I don’t have enough to say about to fill a full review for each! Sound exciting? Two were okay but one totally sucked…
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Directed by Gus Van Sant & Based on Drugstore Cowboy by James Fogle
Starring: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Remar, James LeGros, Heather Graham, William Burroughs
It seems like I’ve watched quite a few movies about people who are addicted to drugs but they’re never exactly favorites of mine. It’s certainly something I can’t relate to as I’m afraid I’m going to OD if I take one little wussy aspirin for a headache. The last drug movie I watched was The Basketball Diaries, which was also based on the real-life drug addiction of the story’s author. That movie was a little disappointing but had a good performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. I maybe liked it slightly more than this but Drugstore Cowboy is probably a bit better as a film.
The problem with these drug movies is that, even though they show the terrible effects that drugs have on people, I think they still manage to glamorize drug addiction to a certain degree. Diaries is more guilty of that than Cowboy – I think Drugstore Cowboy tells a more straightforward story without trying to appear too “cool”. However, it also makes for a slightly more boring film.
I’ve never really liked Matt Dillon with his gormless face & Bert from Sesame Street eyebrows but I guess he’s fine in this (he’s just not on a Leonardo DiCaprio level acting-wise). Kelly Lynch was pretty good as Dillon’s bossy, horny girlfriend (or I think she may have been his wife?). I haven’t really seen Lynch in many films but all I ever think of is how Bill Murray calls her husband to tell him that Kelly is having sex with Patrick Swayze anytime Road House is playing on TV (I really need to watch that movie – it looks so gloriously bad). I was surprised to see a very young Heather Graham looking all cute like she did in License To Drive. That’s the thing with these Hollywood drug movies – you’d think only really attractive people become addicted to drugs.
Overall, I liked Drugstore Cowboy okay but I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s life. It’s not as hard-hitting as some of the other drug addiction films that are out there but it does a decent job telling the story of a group of people who rob drugstores to feed their addiction and what a pointless existence they’re living.
My Rating: 6.5/10
At Close Range (1986)
Directed by James Foley
Starring: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Crispin Glover, Tracey Walter, Christopher Penn, Kiefer Sutherland
At Close Range is probably the best movie of these three but I really had no idea how mean and violent it was going to be. All I really knew of the movie was what I saw in the clips of that Madonna video Live To Tell. It’s an Eighties movie that I missed out on at the time but always kind of wanted to see (probably because of that video). When it appeared on Netflix, I decided to watch it after being reminded that Mary Stuart Masterson is in it (and Crispin Glover! he’s his usual weird, Crispin Glover self in this). Oh yeah – and Christopher Penn! I’ve always liked him more than grumpy Sean.
I didn’t know that this movie was based on the true story of a notorious crime family in Pennsylvania in the 1960s & 70s. There’s very little information on the real life criminals on Wikipedia so I can’t say how accurate the movie is but it’s a very gritty film and Walken is truly evil in this role. It was strange to see Walken playing a bad guy with absolutely no over-the-top acting or sick sense of humor like in movies such as Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. I absolutely HATED this guy (as you’re meant to) so I guess you can say that Walken played the role really well despite a very distracting hairstyle.
At Close Range follows Sean Penn’s character and his estranged criminal father, played by Walken, who suddenly appears back in his son’s life and involves him in the family’s crime ring with very tragic consequences. Looking up the true story, I saw just how young these kids were when all this occurred (Penn’s character, his brother, his friends & his 15-year-old girlfriend) and I found it quite heartbreaking to see how this group of adult criminals were able to so easily use these young kids, some of them their own family, with absolutely no remorse.
At Close Range was a much darker movie than I was expecting for some reason (maybe because of that Madonna video) but I suppose it was a pretty good film. I’m just not normally a fan of true crime films as I find them too upsetting and the treatment of Penn’s & Masterson’s characters was especially difficult to watch. I’d recommend this if it sounds like your type of movie but be prepared to hate Walken’s character and to possibly feel a little angry when it finishes.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Directed & Written by Richard Linklater
Starring: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Mark James, Stella Weir, John Slate, Louis Mackey, Teresa Taylor
I love Richard Linklater. I really do. Dazed And Confused is a favorite movie of mine and I really liked Boyhood even though a lot of people hated it. Bernie was pretty damn good as well, I love the relationship in the Before films, and School Of Rock is a huge guilty pleasure of mine (although I shouldn’t feel guilty about it – it’s great! Jack Black haters be GONE!). So…. I decided it was about time I check out Linklater’s feature length debut Slacker.
Slacker has a high IMDB rating for an older film (7.1/10). I knew it was loads of “talking” like most of his films, which I don’t mind. Dazed And Confused and the Before films are loads of talking. The difference is that those films have characters we give a shit about and a f*%king STORY instead of a bunch of random idiots telling stupid, boring stories that have absolutely no connection to each other.
I’m sorry to anyone who is a fan of this one but I just do NOT get the appeal. It would be okay if the pointless talking was funny and entertaining like it was in Dazed And Confused but none of it is funny or entertaining. Scratch that – the chick in the photo above (and the poster) is mildly (emphasis on mildly) entertaining as she discusses buying a Madonna pap smear (hey – a Madonna connection to my previous review!). I guess that’s why that character ended up on the poster as she’s the only one I can even remember other than Linklater himself, who starts off the string of pointless talking in the very first scene.
I guess the one good thing about Slacker is that it was the start of Linklater’s career. I’m still a fan of his as he went on to make much (much!) better films than this one but Slacker is a huge waste of time for anyone who isn’t a slacker and has better things to do with their time.
This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes, once again, from Rob of Movie Rob. Thanks, Rob! He liked Pretty In Pink after just recently watching it for the first time so let’s now hear his thoughts on Some Kind Of Wonderful. 🙂
“Keith… you’re losing it. And when it’s lost, all you are is a loser.” – Watts
Number of Times Seen – at least 5 times (Theater in 1987, cable, video and 12 Mar 2014)
Brief Synopsis – A poor kid who falls in love with a rich girl is helped by his tomboy friend in order to win her over. Little does he know, that she is in love with him too.
My Take on it – What would you do if you were one of the most successful filmmakers of 1980’s teen films and the studio forced you to change the ending of your movie?
You’d do what John Hughes did.. Remake the movie with slightly different characters and keep the ending you always wanted.
I use to love this movie as a teen because it showed that sometimes as a teen you don’t know what’s right for you and are willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want. And then in a moment of clarity, you realize that you made a mistake and are able to rectify that mistake.
Wouldn’t it be great if life was so simple?
That statement is both allegorical to this movie and to the situation Hughes was in himself when he chose to make this movie.
Hughes was so adamant at making everyone know about his frustration that he ever wanted to cast Molly Ringwald in the Main female part. She declined and was never asked to be in another John Hughes movie ever again.
In her stead, Hughes hired Lea Thompson who ended up falling in love with the director of the movie Howard Deutch and they have been married ever since.
Besides Thompson, this movie features Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson (who I still have a strong crush on to this day).
The themes and situations of this movie and Pretty in Pink (1986) are so blatant that you would have to be a complete idiot to not realize that they are basically the same movie but with different happy endings.
Having only watched Pretty in Pink (1986) very recently, I actually think the opposite. In my mind, this movie is the original with the correct ending and the other is the “remake” with the wrong ending. 🙂
Bottom Line – Great “remake” of Pretty in Pink (1986) that actually has the proper ending. Excellent cast.
Mary Stuart Masterson
Candace Cameron Bure
Running time: 95 minutes
Plot Synopsis: Pretty In Pink. But better in some ways.
I’ll keep this review short as I’ve already reviewed Pretty In Pink (review HERE) and, for those who don’t know much about John Hughes films, this is basically a remake of that but with the roles reversed (Eric Stoltz is Molly Ringwald – you can figure out the rest if you watch them as I try to stay spoiler-free for Hughes-newbies). Which one is the better film? Pretty In Pink. Which one do I like more? Probably Some Kind Of Wonderful.
I think it’s a shame that Some Kind Of Wonderful seems to get forgotten while Pretty In Pink gets all the attention. I won’t go into Pretty In Pink much as I’ve already reviewed it but the things it really has going for it are two very strong characters (Duckie & Iona) and some classic Hughes-style quotable lines. I think the script is stronger and, as I said, it’s a better film overall. However, I really couldn’t relate to any of the characters in Pretty In Pink. In Some Kind Of Wonderful, I found them much more realistic & they felt more like people who actually would have been in my high school. Plus Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a great female character. I prefer the tough tomboy thing to Molly Ringwald’s usual girly roles in the Hughes movies. Watts still gets a little “silly” over a boy but, hey – she’s a teenage girl. Her character feels very genuine in the movie plus her friendship with Stoltz is totally believable and I bought into it more than Andie & Duckie’s in Pretty In Pink.
Eric Stoltz does a decent enough job in the movie & you do find yourself wanting things to work out for him. Lea Thompson is a little… Empty. But so was the character who was her equivalent in Pretty In Pink. Elias Koteas is the “Skinhead” in this and is a very enjoyable character in the way that Iona was great in Pretty In Pink. The “bitches” are less bitchy than in Pretty In Pink but are more believable. Craig Sheffer is, well, a low-budget James Spader – anyone could have played his role. He’s the equivalent of Michael Ironside being the low-budget Jack Nicholson. But the important thing is that the two main characters, Stoltz & Masterson, are very strong and, for me, more likeable and realistic than in Pretty In Pink. Especially Watts.
Sorry for basically just comparing this to Pretty In Pink but it would be impossible not to. If you haven’t seen either film, I’d recommend both if you like slightly-dramatic 80’s teen movies and especially if you like John Hughes as these are both very much “him”. It’s hard to say which one you’ll like more – some prefer one and some prefer the other. If you’ve seen (and like) Pretty In Pink, you MUST watch Some Kind Of Wonderful as well! It’s good. You may even find you end up liking it more than Pretty In Pink. Okay – Yeah, I like it more too. It just wins out over Pretty In Pink thanks to the characters feeling more real. Some Kind Of Wonderful deserves more recognition than it seems to get compared to the other Hughes teen movies.
This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Cara of Silver Screen Serenade. Thanks for being a part of this blogathon, Cara! She’s going to tell us what she thought of Some Kind Of Wonderful. 🙂
Just wanted to quickly say thanks to Table 9 Mutant for being so awesome as to pull this blogathon together! It was a great idea, and I’m thrilled to be taking part. Also, T9M, thanks for pretty much picking my movie for me. I suck at decisions. Lol. Anyway, review time!
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Directed by Howard Deutch
Mary Stuart Masterson
Music by Stephen Hague & John Musser
Running time: 95 minutes
Plot synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film is set against the strict social hierarchy of an American public high school. The tomboyish Watts (Masterson) has always considered working class misfit Keith Nelson (Stoltz) her best friend. But when Keith asks out the most popular girl in school, Amanda Jones (Thompson), Watts realizes she feels something much deeper for him.
What I liked:
• The cool, very 1980s opening. Dramatic music! Drums! Fixing cars! Teenagers making out! Yeah this film is DOIN’ STUFF!
• Dreamy Eric Stoltz. Those blue eyes and that ginger hair…YEP.
• Elias Koteas as the film’s tough guy. He doesn’t have a huge role in this, but he’s still pretty awesome as Keith’s bully-turned-buddy, Duncan. I could see why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wanted him to play Casey Jones a few years later.
• Mary Stuart Masterson as tomboy Watts. She plays tough yet insecure very well, and she’s got some great lines in this. For example, when Watts and Keith are talking about Amanda—Keith: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Watts: “Yeah, but you can tell how much it’s gonna cost.” You tell ‘im, sassy lady.
• Keith and Watts’ relationship. Stoltz and Masterson portray their chemistry well, and their dialogue is fun and natural.
• The detention scenes. Particularly one in which Keith and Duncan show each other their respective “artwork.” Very funny.
• Watts’ speech confessing to Keith how much he means to her. It could’ve easily come off as corny, but it’s actually one of the best moments of the film.
• Amanda is not a flat character. It’s easy to make the popular girl into a generic villain, but you actually end up admiring her by the end up the film. She has to deal with some stuff, and she grows from it.
• Duncan and co. showing up at the end of the film. Awesome. Just awesome.
What I didn’t like:
• Keith is VERY stalkery with Amanda. I realize he’s got a serious case of puppy love, but he goes too far. He always seems to know where she is, and we only ever see him drawing/painting her. Plus, when he finally takes her out on a date, he blows almost all of his money on too much too soon. Woah, boy. Rein it in. You’re making this borderline horror flick sometimes.
• Is it just me or is the “pushy father who doesn’t listen” a recurring character in John Hughes movies? I’ve encountered him in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I’ve heard tales of him in The Breakfast Club, and now here he is again in the form of Keith’s father. We get it, John—1980s teen boys had daddy issues.
• Amanda’s boyfriend, Hardy. Played by Craig Sheffer, Hardy just didn’t seem like a real person to me. He’s over the top in almost every way. I’m not buying it.
• There’s a scene where Amanda flirts with an older teacher to get out of detention. First of all, ew. Second, there is no way that would ever happen. Ever. Unless the teacher was a secret perv, and that’s getting into a can of worms too dark for a lighthearted teen movie.
• The resolution is too easy and not presented in a completely satisfying way. It’s too hard to talk about this vaguely, so SPOILERS: Yes, Keith ends up with Watts, and, yes, that’s what everybody watching wants. However, Keith had zero romantic interest in Watts (even after a steamy kiss), and all of the sudden his crush on her just kind of smacks him in the face in the last five minutes of the film, leaving poor Amanda high and dry. Plus, Keith and Watts barely get to talk about their feelings, and you don’t really get to see them as a couple. END SPOILERS.
• Random, but why is this film called “Some Kind of Wonderful?” I kept waiting for them to play the song or reference something to do with it, but I don’t think that ever happened…
This film is fun! It might not be as original as The Breakfast Club or as funny as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it definitely has that John Hughes style to it so many know and love so well. As far as teen romantic comedies go, you could do far worse.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Probably a B+ or so on my rating system)