Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982) Review

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)

Directed by Lou Adler

Starring: Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Marin Kanter, Ray Winstone, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Paul Simonon, Fee Waybill, Barry Ford, Black Randy, Elizabeth Daily, Brent Spiner

Running time: 87 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The media and disaffected teens mistake the acerbic rants of an obnoxious teenage punk rocker as a rallying cry for the women of America, launching her and her talentless group to national stardom.

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My Opinion:

I mentioned this movie in my review for Miracle Mile because, like Miracle Mile, this is a movie from my beloved Eighties that I had somehow never even heard of! I love discovering movies such as these as I’ll always be especially fond of movies from this era. So, like I warned in my Miracle Mile review, I’m going to be positive about this movie but it is NOT one that most people who are reading this would like as much as I did.

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains stars a very young Diane Lane…. as a PUNK! I wish I had seen this as a teen because I’d have loved it and I’d have wanted to be just like Diane Lane’s character (I’d still like that but I’m pretty old so I think my “sexy punk rocker girl” days may be behind me). She starts off looking like a normal, pretty girl-next-door but then reveals this look while on tour with her “band” for the first time:

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How awesome is that look?! Although I’d be far too self-conscious to wear the see-through red top… But I love the hair & the red eye-makeup! It’s funny that her look didn’t inspire a bunch of copycats – I think that the movie was just too obscure. I’m not sure exactly why this movie didn’t make it big. Yes, it’s not the greatest movie out there & it’s very dated now but I’ve seen far worse movies from the Eighties. After watching this, I figured it was time for me to finally watch Lane in Streets Of Fire as I somehow missed out on that one. You know what? Even though that one is more well known and is from the same guy who made the excellent The Warriors, I’d have to say I definitely preferred Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains to Streets Of Fire (I’ll be posting a review of that one on Friday). This one feels more gritty and “real”. Part of that may be the fairly low budget look and part may be because this was made by someone known more in the music industry than the movie industry.

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This was directed by Lou Adler, who only directed one other film (Up In Smoke) but did produce a few movies as well (such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show). He’s mainly known for being a record producer & manager and I think this film works well as a look into the music industry and how quickly musicians can rise to fame and then just as quickly come crashing back down thanks to a fickle audience. Lane’s character is an angry teenager who becomes a hero of sorts when being interviewed about her town for a local TV station. This leads to her “band” being signed up for a tour with two other bands (despite the fact that no one has heard them play) and it’s discovered during their first concert that they have no talent. But it doesn’t matter as Lane’s punk look & attitude propel them to stardom & she becomes a kind of symbol for feminism while telling everyone that she “never puts out”. Pretty soon every girl wants to be just like her:

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As always, I love seeing familiar faces when I watch films from the Eighties. Laura Dern plays one of the members of The Stains while an extremely young Ray Winstone plays the leader of the more talented punk band on tour with The Stains (The Looters). Elizabeth Daily has a small role as a maid (Dottie from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – she has a bigger role with Lane in Streets Of Fire). I also loved the look of the aging metal band on the tour, Metal Corpses, who are well past their prime but don’t want to retire.

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Unlike in Streets Of Fire (it’s hard to not compare them since I just watched them both), Lane’s character has some depth here and we see that she’s just a young girl who has been left with no parents after her mother’s death & she’s angry at the world. It’s strange how some movies don’t make it big – I thought this was pretty good and, although it of course looks dated, I think the subject matter works just as well now. The issues raised still seem just as relevant (maybe even more so as “fame” is now more shallow and full of no-talent assholes than ever). I liked it and I’d watch it again. In fact, I don’t like that this isn’t available on DVD here as it won’t stay on Netflix forever – it’s one I’d like to keep.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Departed (2006) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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To kick off the IMDB Top 250 guest reviews, we have the lovely Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger. Zoe writes fantastic movie & book reviews and top ten lists (and guest top ten lists, should you wish to join in on the fun). She’s super cool & friendly and Leonardo DiCaprio’s number one fan. She also reads LOTS of books & and is way smarter than me so you really need to check her site out if you haven’t already. 🙂

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now over to Zoe & her thoughts on The Departed, IMDB Rank 50 out of 250

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I got really gung ho involved with Table 9 Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 list. I got excited and I basically took a whole bunch, filling my arms. But whatever, moving along, they are great movies that need to be honoured. I thought that The Departed is one of those films. I have an obsession with this movie. I love it. I really, really do, and I revisit it often. I know dear old Mutant is not the hugest Scorsese fan, but I love the man and was going to explore this, no two ways about it. Oki, I’m going to stop rambling now, and get down to it.

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“We have a question: Do you want to be a cop, or do you want to appear to be a cop? It’s an honest question.”
– Oliver Queenan

Plot Synopsis: An undercover state cop who has infiltrated an Irish gang and a mole in the police force working for the same mob race to track down and identify each other before being exposed to the enemy, after both sides realize their outfit has a rat. (IMDB)

Now, for me I really enjoyed the story, it was sharp and tight and very well written, and had a stellar cast to carry the story as well as a phenomenal director to helm it. Leonardo DiCaprio (yep, here I go again) is just amazing. He nailed the role of Billy Costigan, truly amazing work from him yet again, I expected no less. Coming up from nowhere, working his backside off to get into the police force and being shot down was a painful thing, but when Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) offer him the chance to go undercover for them, to take down a big Irish crime lord, he takes it, not thinking twice. What I loved is how he went in, incredibly optimistic, a chance to prove himself, be more than was expected. Instead he ended up running scared, trying so hard to outsmart everyone and keep his real life separate from the undercover life that was designed for him, and struggling to distance himself as well as accept all the cruel and nasty things that he saw.

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“I’m gonna need the identity of your undercovers.” – Colin Sullivan

Jack Nicholson delivered quite the performance here. As Frank Costello, the Irish mob boss whose gang Costigan has wormed his way into, you can see exactly why he is being hunted. He is sharp as a tack, he is ruthless and psychopathic, calm and cool all the time, not much ruffling him. Never mind the mole snooping around his little unit, he as one up on the police: he has his very own mole really high up in their department. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has been working with Costello since he was a child, and is treated like the son. The two have a very solid relationship with each other, and work really well together. They rely on each other and they understand each other. Costello has his organisation so tightly wrapped up that even Sullivan is a very well hidden secret from within. Things are going fine up until the point that Costigan gets in. It dawns on the police as well as Costello at roughly the same time that someone is leaking information from the inside. This was really great for me, seeing how things started to heat up. The movie never dragged, and even though it took a while for both sides to make the realisation, it was a fantastic one to arrive at.

The camera work was amazing, and keeps bringing new things to the table, keeping it all fresh. The cast works so well together. On one hand you are rooting for the good guys, and the other you want to see the bad ones succeed. Again, this is an example of fine filmmaking for me, though ultimately your loyalty lay with Costigan and his shattered life due to his cover story, his one “big” opportunity that he was granted. Dignam proved to be an exceptionally angry character, though it was grand watching Wahlberg and DiCaprio together, and Sheen regulating them all the time. The score was great; it worked so well with this film, and the whole Irish theme. Vera Farmiga had her psychiatrist role as Madolyn, seeing police who have fired their weapons in line of duty. A meeting with Sullivan in the elevator and all his cocky confidence start their relationship, and all seems to be going well. Naturally, as all paths are crossing in this movie, she meets Costigan, and the two enter into an unknown thing together, which soon break the practitioner/patient boundaries and escalates into an affair. Costigan is hanging onto her like some kind of lifeline, and it is crazy to watch how her perfect relationship with Sullivan crumples when he starts to hide things about her, stripping her of her character, basically. He is a control freak, and everything has to be just so.

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“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” – Frank Costello

The movie pacing is great. It is a long film but never (for me) actually feels that way, which is just awesome. It starts off, sets the tone, introduces the characters, and works with them all a little bit so that we have some background understanding, making all the events that unfold into something more than just a quick smack dab crime flick. As the movie progresses, you witness the cracks that start to show in the characters, the perfectly uneventful lives suddenly have issues that they have never dealt with before. Everything slowly starts unravelling, and soon gains momentum, spinning out of control but never losing the audience or sight of what is going down. Costello’s cockiness is slowly but surely falling away, and he is devolving into something more brutal and his anger is barely kept in check. Nicholson, of course, played that down to a tee. From the relaxed but scary Irish gang leader before, he refuses to relinquish his power, and everyone that stands before him will pay. Sullivan is doing what he can to protect himself as well as Costello, and is desperate to wheedle out the rat that has upset the perfect balance.

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“I can’t wait to wipe that fucking smirk right off of your face.” – Dignam

All in all The Departed earns a 9/10 for me. A simply stunning piece of cinema, it was astounding to watch and never ceases to provide the height of entertainment that I am looking for, supported by a outstanding cast, great score and story, and stellar directing, this was destined to be a goodie. It is deserving of all praise, and you are sure that whenever DiCaprio and Scorsese come together, something beautiful will come from it!