Friday, May 30, 2008

Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr
Originally uploaded by Mark Berry
So I saw Iron Man yet again last weekend. I have to say that the more I watch this movie the more I am impressed with Jon Favreau's presence as a director and his ability to make such a crisp, clear and entertaining rendition of a comic book movie. I never knew much about Iron Man before the movie (even though I owned the action figure as a child), but the more I find out the more I am struck with how faithful those involved int he film stayed to the character.

I must say that Iron Man is one of my favorite films of the year so far, right up there with In Bruges. You can bet I will be buying the special edition of this film on DVD the day it is released and probably watching it that night.

By the way, if you think tthree viewings of one movie is bad just wait until The Dark Knight comes out. When Batman Begins came out I saw it at lest 4 times in the theatre and to this day it remains one of the first films I'll pop in if I'm bored and want to watch while I do something else.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Originally uploaded by wachamuvi
It’s been nineteen years since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released to theatres. Nineteen years for fans to hope that maybe, someday they’d get to see the everyman hero named Indy crack his whip in a new adventure again. Last night at 12:01 a.m. the wait ended and fans are going to be divided directly down the line.

I cannot say that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a bad movie. It is well shot by Janusz Kaminski (although it looks vastly different than any of the previous films), there are numerous iconic images that strike of what makes Spielberg the king of Hollywood, the action sequences are fun, and Indy does get out of tight situations by the combination of brains and brawn that we have come to expect from the character.

This being said, my problem with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that the movie takes us to a place where I don’t think Indy belongs. I have no problem with the Cold War instead of the Nazi’s trying to take over the world, but aliens are stretching it. Indy himself doesn’t even seem to do much in the “detective” work that we’re so used to seeing him do; he follows an old friends instructions and this old friend turns out to be bat crazy then they just kind of jaunt together wherever old crazy tells them to go.

All of the Indiana Jones films harken back to the over-the-top action adventure movies of the golden era of cinema, but Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade still managed to create realistic characters, realistic (yet fanciful) adventures and amazing action – yet Kingdom of the Crystal Skull seems to have finally walked just over the line where an homage to old action movies becomes a literal translation of old action movies. And this time we get old sci-fi movies as well, and I tell you I don’t think Doctor Jones can pull off sci-fi.

I won’t post any spoilers here as I know that this movie is going to be seen by almost everyone I know this weekend, but I will stress that you need to go into the movie knowing that this is not the Indiana Jones you remember, this is an Indiana Jones movie made for a new generation of kids who don’t want to think about what they are watching.

This is my final opinion: I waited nineteen years for a sequel to a movie that really didn’t need a sequel, I know that they had fun making it, but I would have waited another year or two for a movie that felt more like an Indiana Jones movie, not a movie that feels like another movie that happens to have the Indiana Jones characters in it.

I think far too many movies are being made nowadays because they are “fun” movies to watch. What happened to the days where my “fun” movies to watch were also smart?

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: David Koepp
Indiana Jones: Harrison Ford
Marion Ravenwood: Karen Allen
Mutt: Shia LaBeouf
Mac: Ray winstone
Irina Spalko: Cate Blanchett

Indiana Jones: Put your hands down will you, you're embarrassing us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Narnia Prince Caspian
Originally uploaded by faith forever
I know that the Narnia films have taken a lot of flack from people for being very unengaging films; sure they’re pretty, it’s interesting to see the classic novels come to life with great special effects and the kids are entertaining. However, the problem with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is not that is lacks anything visually or that I remember from the book; it merely lacks any character development.

The Pevensie siblings were developed adequately well in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe so little is needed with their characters; what I think they lacked was a strong director to bring the changes that have taken place in the year they’ve been out of Narnia out of the characters. We understand that they were bitter about “accidentally” leaving Narnia, but an internal struggle has gone on over whether they still believe in the things they witnessed were actually how they remember them. Lucy’s development is simple and clear enough. She still believes in all the things Aslan did and the powers and love he has, but is scared to pursue him because her three siblings have begun to believe Aslan has abandoned them as he abandoned Narnia. The problem lies with the three other children – Peter, Susan & Edmund.

The film tries to portray Peter, Susan & Edmund (especially the older two) as having lost some of their faith in Aslan…but never quite gets there. They just seem moody. And then Edmund seems plagued with a lack of any feeling at all, he can’t seem to come up on Lucy’s side or his older siblings. They suffer from either the need of a stronger director, or a stronger script.

However, the biggest problem is the fact that a whole new score of Narnia residents are introduced and they are simply popped into the film with one or two lines of explanation: the ones who suffer from the worst of this are Trumpkin & Caspian.

Trumpkin is the dwarf that the returned King’s & Queen’s (the Pevensie children) rescue when they first return and he turns into their guide. Other than providing some witty banter here and there Trumpkin and the Pevensie children never seem to form a relationship, yet the audience is told over and over again that they have one. Even at the end of the movie when Lucy has to give Trumpkin a hug before leaving Narnia yet again it evokes no emotion from the audience.

Perhaps the most egregious lack of character development is in Prince Caspian himself. The character is harmed enough by the fact that Ben Barnes can’t act his way out of a paper bag, but the filmmakers cannot expect you to care about the fate of a character that they do not create. So suddenly after Caspian is thrown into the woods of Narnia he’s rallying the Narnian’s to fight against his people and it feels utterly forced – there is no way a character in this situation, seeing what the audience has seen of him, would suddenly want to lead the Narnian’s to freedom. Again, the heart-to-heart that Caspian has with Aslan is one of the flattest moments Caspian has in the film; the audience doesn’t care or believe that he’s scared to be king.

The saving grace of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is actually two CGI characters: Aslan and Reepicheep. Reepicheep is a warrior mouse voiced by Eddie Izzard that steals every scene he is in. Aslan, voiced again to perfection by Liam Neeson is the only character that remains constant through the two movies – we understand his motives, and his affection.

I do not mean to say that Prince Caspian is not entertaining. I enjoyed it. However, it will never make the classic movie status to which it aspires.

Director: Andrew Adamson
Writers: Andrew Adamson & Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Alsan: Lain Neeson
Peter: William Moseley
Susan: Anna Poppelwell
Edmund: Skandar Keynes
Lucy: Georgie Henley
Caspian: Ben Barnes
Reepicheep Eddie Izzard
Trumpkin: Peter Drinklage

Lucy Pevensie: It's so still.
Trumpkin: They're trees. What do you expect?
Lucy Pevensie: They used to dance.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


AS clueless3
Originally uploaded by Boy Billy
I have a theory; for my generation guys had Swingers to show them the comical side of how men deal with life and relationships, and girls had Clueless.

Amy Heckerling moves from Fast Times at Ridgemont High to a teen girl comedy based on a Jane Austen story seamlessly. Clueless is the first real “teen” movie that I remember watching. To this day I laugh everytime Cher starts her speech about the “Hate-e-ans”, or doesn’t realize the boy she’s flirting with is a “cake eater”. One of my favorite visual moments in the film is still when the “lights” literally go on for Cher as she realizes she is in love with her former step-brother Josh; walking through LA she stands in front of a fountain as it suddenly climaxes shooting water into the air and lights up behind her.

My favorite character is still Mel, Cher’s father played by Dan Hadeya. He is the overprotective, rough and tough dad but he loves Cher and wants to make sure the world loves her as much as he does.

This movie is exactly what it appears to be and is better for it. Clueless is light, bubbly and innocent. It wants to show you the perils of a teenage girl and make you laugh with them not at them.

Writer & Director: Amy Heckerling
Cher: Alicia Silverstone
Dionne: Stacey Dash
Tai: Brittany Murphy
Josh: Paul Rudd
Murray: Donald Faison
Mel: Dan Hedaya

Mel: What's with you, kid? You think the death of Sammy Davis left an opening in the Rat Pack?

Monday, May 19, 2008


Originally uploaded by caaarol
I am not afraid of Juno causing a rise in teen pregnancy; don’t think that I am starting with this statement out of left field. There have been plenty of critics of the film that have said dumb things like Juno being the impetus to teens having more sex. To me this statement proves that these people have not seen the film. Juno is a film about teen pregnancy; but more than anything it is about a teen that knows she made a mistake and decides to take responsibility afterwards by not aborting the baby or keeping it to raise, but making sure to give it a family that she knows will proved it a life she cannot achieve for the baby.

Perhaps my favorite part of Juno is not just the acerbic wit of the lead character (named after Zeus’ wife not the city) but the supporting characters around her: Leah the best friend, Mac her father, Bren her stepmother and Bleeker the father. Each of these characters is realistic in the way they respond to Juno’s plight and offer the support and love that I would hope any of my friends would get if they were in Juno’s situation.

When Juno comes running straight from the abortion clinic to Leah’s house and announces that she’s going to “stay pregnant” Leah quickly moves from freaking out about how this will change Juno’s life to suggesting to Juno how to find a quality adoptive couple for the baby. Throughout the rest of the film she is by Juno’s side through thick and thin when Juno tells her parents about her situation to the actual delivery itself.

Just as important are Bren and Mac Juno’s parents. When Juno tells them that she is pregnant they don’t tell though visibly upset, instead they step in to help Juno take her pregnancy seriously; Mac stays by Juno’s side through the adoption process right until after the delivery when he consoles her by saying someday she’ll have a baby when she’s ready to have one. After finding out Juno is pregnant Bren immediately jumps in to the mother role to her stepdaughter by taking her to the doctor, protecting her from the condescension of the ultra-sound tech and even screaming at the doctors to give Juno “the damn spinal tap” when she is in labor.

Then there is Bleeker, the father of Juno’s baby and the last person anyone expected to be able to get a girl pregnant. Bleeker is a relatively calm character who tries to stay by Juno’s side even when she pushes him away. To Bleeker Juno is still the only girl in the world and he doesn’t understand why she can’t see that. However, slow and steady wins the race and by the end of Juno’s journey she has realized that Bleeker is the best thing that could have happened to her.

Finally, we have Juno herself. While this character is an irresponsible teenage girl she proves more than capable of “dealing with things way beyond [her] maturity level”. She moves with absolute resolution from deciding to abort the pregnancy to staying pregnant and giving up the baby for adoption. Her wit and sarcasm are her greatest weapons that arm her to deal with the skeptics around her, and she seeks out not just a better life for the baby, but to find out her ultimate goal – who she truly is.

Juno is a quirky film that balances a peculiar sense of humor with a dramatic subject, but it is the heart of the movie that makes it truly shine. If Jason Reitman was able to make a “joyful movie about lung cancer” in Thank You for Smoking, then with Diablo Cody’s script he makes a warm-hearted film about teen pregnancy.

Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Diablo Cody
Juno: Ellen page
Bleeker: Michael Cera
Vanessa: Jennifer Garner
Mark: Jason Bateman
Bren: Allison Janney
Mac: J.K. Simmons
Leah: Olivia Thirlby

Vanessa Loring: Your parents are probably wondering where you are.
Juno MacGuff: Nah... I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?


Once Poster
Originally uploaded by NYCviaRachel
When I walked into Once for the first time I was skeptical; I had read a review calling it a kitchen-sink* musical and I did not think that could exist. For all intents and purposes these are two entirely seprate genres and should not be able to overlap; yet they do overlap and remarkably well I might add. Once breaks Hollywood conventions in many ways, and uses this to create a very real, relatable movie even though it is a musical, something that by definition should not be “real”.

The main characters in Once are real-life musicians Marketa Irglova & Glen Hansard (of The Frames), just as in the movie she is Czech and he is Irish and they wrote the music for the film together. In the film Marketa and Glen are never given names, but referred to in the credits as Guy & Girl. Their story is simple: they meet, fall in love but never do anything because she is married and he is pining for the girl that got away and then finally when the only intimacy they haven’t shared is physical they break it off and each move back into the correct direction for their lives: Guy to England to get the girl that got away and pursue his music and Girl with her family and blissfully happy with the last gift Guy gave her – an upright piano.

Once is billed as a love story, but in actually it is not Guy & Girl’s affection for each other that drives the film; what drives the film is their love of music. They are two individuals that find each other at the perfect time and push the other further into their music.

The first time Guy & Girl meet the only time Guy is comfortable playing his own songs on the street is when it’s night and fewer people are out, and those that are out aren’t paying attention to him; Girl appears seemingly out of nowhere and demands to know why he doesn’t play these songs more. She is persistant and demanding and exactly what Guy doesn’t want – someone who wants to know more about him. From there their relationship grows as she persistently shows up the next day demanding that she fix her vacuum, and before doing so he finally discovers her musical talent: piano.

However, Girl is an immigrant from the Czech Republic and is so poor that she does not have her own piano any longer, but has made a deal with a music shop owner that she can come in and play for an hour a day; thus, girl takes guy to the shop and plays for him and together the couple plays their first duet and their relationship becomes real for the first time as his suspicion of her completely evaporates. They have begun to share their souls through music and Guy again has a muse. They continue to work together, Guy giving her assignments to write lyrics for his music and Girl reprimanding Guy for not trying to get a recording deal until Guy finally jumps over the precise and decides to make a real demo with Girl’s help.

This movie is one of the most touching, inspirational films that I have ever seen. It is pure, innocent and passionate and is the kind of movie that Hollywood appreciates but has trouble making. Once was one of my favorite films of last year and it did win one Oscar (though it deserved more) for Falling Slowly as Best Original Song.

No one that I have met has regretted seeing this movie. I highly recommend it.

Writer & Director: John Carney
Guy: Glen Hansard
Girl: Marketa Irglova

Guy: During the daytime people would want to hear songs that they know, just songs that they recognize. I play these song at night or I wouldn't make any money. People wouldn't listen.
Girl: I listen.

*Kitchen Sink Realism: A film movement in Brittan in the 1950’s; realism films that depicted the poor & working class. The films took on the name Kitchen Sink realism after a reviewer coined the term and noted that most films had a scene in the kitchen; the films typically contained a male protagonist working to fight the constraints of society & its expectations.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Iron Man & Enchanted (part duex)

On Mother's Day it was my Mother's pick as to what movies she wanted to watch and though it's a little sad that she picked two that I have already seen recently I am happy to report that with repeated viewings neither Iron Man or Enchanted grew old.

Jon Faverau's film remains just as fresh, daring and comical as it did when I saw it the first time & Enchanted is just as enchanting.

It was a good Mother's Day for my Mom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Batman Begins

Originally uploaded by Hot Rod Homepage

Growing up in my house it was a DC world, and Batman & Superman reigned supreme. I knew a lot about Batman, but was never a huge fan; I’m a Superman girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with Batman, I just couldn’t blend the Adam West, Tim Burton, & Joel Schumacher versions with the comic books I knew in my head. In 2005 that all changed when I found out that Christopher Nolan was taking over the flagging franchise with the superb casting of independent tour de force Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne.

Batman is by nature a dark tale of a decaying city, and a calloused idealist who genuinely holds onto his life’s hope that he can aid in bringing his beloved city back to the people who dwell in it and away from the crime that corrupts it. He is a man devoid of super powers that pushes himself to become more than human, he wants to be the fear in the hearts of those that prey on the fearful; but more than that Batman is the great detective who uses his position as Bruce Wayne and talents as Batman to undermine and search out the corrupt whenever he can. Bruce Wayne is a hero that realizes he does not want to be Bruce Wayne any more, he is Batman but must keep the Bruce Wayne disguise on to protect his real identity.

This is an incredibly complex character who has been dragged through the mud over the years. I don’t need to say much about the Adam West version except “POW!”; Michael Keaton got the darkness but nothing else; Val Kilmer looked great in the suit; George Clooney looked great in the tuxes. On top of the people entrusted with the character over the years I was never a fan of Burton’s super dark and twisted out-of-reality version of Gotham and from the purple and green lighting thrown into the background of almost every shot it was obvious that Schumacher didn’t get the world either (I won’t even mention the atrocity of Batgirl becoming Alfred’s niece instead of Commissioner Gordon’s daughter).

But with the news that Christopher Nolan, David Goyer & Christian Bale were teaming on a new Batman movie that would ignore the previous films the geeks began to murmur. We had a hope that possibly this pairing would not only restore the Batman franchise to a watchable series, but perhaps take it a step closer to the comic book we remembered.

Casting news began to leak. There was Michael Cain as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox – we were excited. The story was going to harken back to Batman Year One about the origins of creating the character – we were excited. Ra’s Al Ghul & the Scarecrow where going to be the villains. We all began to doubt David Goyer’s prowess at writing a Batman script. How do you make two of the more marginal villains in the Batman pantheon the villains and explain them? Bruce Wayne’s love interest was going to be played by Katie Holmes – we all began to doubt. We were now on the edge of the geek precipice; we wanted to believe so bad that Batman Begins would be great, but we thought there were cracks in the plan. We were wrong.

Aside from the superb cast, and talent of Nolan the reason Batman Begins is (at least for now) the best adaptation of the character to date is the story. By using two lesser known villains in the Batman pantheon Goyer was able to concentrate on what was truly important: the transition of Bruce Wayne into Batman and the slow decay of Gotham that led to the corrupt void that it now is. For the first time Bruce Wayne’s parents were not just story devices, but characters and the audience could understand Bruce’s loss and how hard it must have been for Alfred to raise him; we saw the flawed young man he became that was so desperate to make a difference and didn’t know how and how this led him to become Batman. And this is how we finally understood how Ra’s Al Ghul was the perfect villain to be placed in this story line.

In this Batman Ra’s was not some idle villain known for the League of Shadows and his knack at immortality, but the man who put Bruce on the path to becoming Batman, and another person he trusted who would ultimately betray him and the first person who would test Batman in how close he would dance along the rules he so carefully set up to control his actions as Batman; namely would he kill to save the day.

We saw the beginning of the relationship between Batman and future Commissioner Jim Gordon begin to flourish. We saw Alfred fret over the damages Batman would do to Bruce Wayne and come to realize that the man and alter ego are a necessary thing. Wayne Enterprises was just as important to Bruce Wayne as it was to his family before him. We saw the world of Batman become real.

This Batman is dark, moody, and idealistic at the same time. He battles not just a major villain but the dark forces of an entire city – the average criminals, the crime lords, corrupt police, super villains in the making (Scarecrow), and super villains that have been in this world longer than Batman (Ra’s Al Ghul).

What makes Batman Begins most unique though is the logical progression that the filmmakers were able to place upon the world they created. This was best exemplified by the end of the movie; not only was it a nod to what the geeks were waiting for, but it exemplified the problems of a world with heroes that walk the line between vigilante and dutiful citizen. It is then that we geeks (and film scholars) knew beyond a doubt that the people behind this film understand Batman and would not let the franchise go astray any time soon.

At the end of the film newly promoted Jim Gordon installs the bat signal and uses it for the first time. Gordon begins a conversation with Batman about escalation: cops use semi-automatics, criminals get automatics, cops get Kevlar & the criminals get armor piercing rounds – and now Gotham has Batman. At this point he tells Batman that another costumed freak has been causing mayhem & killing people…and leaving his calling card, a joker. Batman gets his first true homegrown super villain and the person most widely considered to be his arch nemesis.

In the end there is not one element that made Batman Begins a successful adaptation of Batman, there were dozens of elements. This film shows such care and craftsmanship that there is no doubt that it was artfully constructed by everyone involved from those above the line like Nolan and Bale, to the very last grip and PA below the line. The strengths of Batman Begins make The Dark Knight one of the most anticipated films of this summer movie season.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: David Goyle
Bruce Wayne/Batman: Christian Bale
Alfred: Michael Caine
Rachel Dawes: Katie Holmes
Henri Ducard: Liam Neeson
Jim Gordon: Gary Oldman
Dr. Crane/Scarecrow: Cillian Murphy
Carmine Falcone: Tom Wilkinson
Mr. Earle: Rutger Hauer
Ra’s Al Ghoul: Ken Wantanabe
Lucius Fox: Morgan Freeman

Bruce Wayne: [as Alfred opens the curtains] Bats are nocturnal.
Alfred Pennyworth: Bats might be, but even for billionaire playboys, three o'clock is pushing it. The price of leading a double life, I think. Your theatrics made an impression.
[shows the newspaper to Bruce]
Bruce Wayne: Theatricality and deception are powerful weapons, Alfred. It's a good start.
Alfred Pennyworth: If those are to be the first of many other injuries to come, it will be wise to find a suitable excuse. Polo, for instance.
Bruce Wayne: I'm not learning polo, Alfred.
Alfred Pennyworth: Strange injuries and non-existent social life, these things beg the question as to what exactly does Bruce Wayne do with his time and his money.
Bruce Wayne: And what does someone like me do?
Alfred Pennyworth: Drive sports cars, date movie stars, buy things that are not for sale... who knows, Master Wayne? You start pretending to have fun, you might even have a little by accident.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Iron Man

Ironman Photo
Originally uploaded by AsceticMonk

Tony Stark is not your typical superhero. He does not have special powers, there are no radioactive accidents, alien origins, or cataclysmic events that cause him to gain abilities greater than other humans. His power is much more than that. Tony Stark grows a conscience.

At the beginning of the story of Tony Stark is the typical billionaire playboy; he’s a womanizer, a genius, an alcoholic. Stark is concerned with nothing more than making the next cool new weapon that will maintain American power and having a good time, and if he can he’d like to do both at the same time. He’s unreliable, and frequently puts his best friends and advisors on the spot, yet he is beloved by his friends and the public. He is the resident “mad scientist” and figurehead of Stark Industries, the leading supplier of high tech weapons to the American Government.

It is on one of his good-will, weapon demonstration trips to Afghanistan that Tony Stark’s life is forever changed. While riding back to the military base from the demonstration site with a full military escort the caravan is attacked and Tony is kidnapped.

Once in captivity Stark begins his transformation into a hero; he sees first hand that his view of the world and what the company that bears his name does, that they not only supply weapons to the good guys but that the villains of the world end up with them as well and he is in some part responsible for the death and destruction around him. Stark realizes that he should have died in the accident/kidnapping, and uses his newfound knowledge of the world to turn his life around and begin to make a difference.

After a daring escape Tony Stark returns home a new man to the skepticism of others. He secretly begins work utilizing the technology that is now keeping shrapnel out of his heart, a power source that will turn the suit of armor he is designing into his new alter ego – Iron Man.

Tony Stark is relatively unique in the world of super heroes. His only equivalent that I can think of is Bruce Wayne in the DC universe who is also a hero who is merely human but rises to hero status when he chooses to do something about the injustices that he sees in the world around him. However, what makes Tony Stark truly unique is that he refuses to hide behind his alter ego and will not use his costume as a shroud to protect his identity. He is Iron Man, and he doesn’t care if the whole world knows it, in fact he announces it to them. Even though he goes through a drastic character change he is still deeply flawed, prideful, and a whole other pantheon of issues Tony Stark becomes more and more human, yet this makes him a super hero.

It is in light of this unique and flawed character of Tony Stark/Iron Man that this film works so well. Jon Favreau obviously sympathizes with the human qualities of the character and fought to not make a generic hero movie, but get actors that could make these comic book characters truly genuine and human. The foremost example of this is the phenomenal Robert Downey Jr.

When first cast some skepticism arose over whether Robert Downey Jr. could pull off a movie like this, no one was doubting his acting skills, he just didn’t seem like the hero-type. But this is exactly what makes him so perfect for the part; over the years his flaws have become a matter of public knowledge, and he’s proven that he’s worked to get over them, but still struggles – just like Tony Stark.

The importance of casting was not ignored in the other roles in the film as well. There is Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Tony Startk’s personal assistant famous for being willing to do anything for Tony, and beloved by Stark because she is capable of running his life in a way he cannot. Terrance Howard plays Jim Rhodes a military officer, liaison between the armed forces & Stark Industries and lifelong friend of Tony. Jeff Bridges grows a beard and goes bald to play the co-head of Stark Industries Obadiah Stone, who becomes the catalyst to creating Iron Man’s first super villain.

The end result pulls the Marvel movie franchisee’s back to the likes of the first two Spiderman movies and away from the likes of The Fantastic Four. This is not a child’s superhero movie, but one much more adult and as a result much more real and entertaining.

Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Mark Fugus & Hawk Ostby
Tony Stark: Robert Downey Jr.
Pepper Potts: Gwenyth Paltrow
Jim Rhodes: Terrance Howard
Obadiah Stone: Jeff Daniels
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson
Christine Everhart: Leslie Bibb

Tony Stark: They say the best weapon is one you never have to fire. I prefer the weapon you only need to fire once. That's how dad did it, that's how America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sixteen Candles

sixteen candles
Originally uploaded by _lmc

The first time I watched Sixteen Candles was on VHS; I was about 16 myself and my TV was dying so the entire film appeared to be shades of purple. I didn’t care. I watched the whole thing.

Again, this should have been one of the many tip-off’s to me that movies weren’t just a fun activity, they are my life. But even then, if I didn’t have that passion for movies that I now realize I have, I would have watched Sixteen Candles to the very end. Why? John Hughes has the amazing talent to create a world, to create characters that perfectly capture all of us at one point in our lives; in the case of a Hughes movie this typically means our adolescence.

The part that I cannot wrap my head around is how this man who is older than my father somehow manages in the case of Sixteen Candles to perfectly capture what it was like to be a sixteen year old girl.

Samantha Baker was me when I was sixteen, staring into the mirror and telling your best friend that you knew there wasn’t going to be a physical change, but the birthday felt like it should be such a momentous occasion that something was going to change, or that you had spent years imagining what it was going to be like to finally be sixteen. As an adult I look back on this line of thinking and know the error of my thoughts, but that doesn’t make them any less real. I was a teenage girl who thought life, romance and popularity would begin at sixteen. It’s a part of who I am and somehow, fourteen years before I was going to be sixteen John Hughes created a character that knew what it was like to be me.

Sixteen Candles is still popular today because Hughes was able to not just capture the pop culture alive and well in 1984, but something much more basic; Hughes caputured the plight of the American teenager, specifically the teenage girl. In doing this he does not demean the teenage plot, but uses his unique blend of comedy and drama to create a world that we all seem to remember as being our adolescence – whether we are male or female.

I am a fan of John Hughes, in fact I think he spawned the dozens of teen comedies that still invade our cinemas today. But none of those films will ever be as good as a Hughes film; these imitators forget the central point that Hughes so clearly uses his characters to illustrate: these are not just hormonal teenagers, they are human too.

Written & Directed: John Hughes
Samantha Baker: Molly Ringwald
Jake Ryan: Michael Schoeffling
Farmer Ted/The Geek: Anthony Michael Hall
Long Duck Dong: Gedde Watanabe

The Geek: You know, I'm getting input here that I'm reading as relatively hostile.
Samantha: Go to hell.
The Geek: VERY hostile.

Jim Baker: That's why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they'd call them something else.