Thu, 08/01/2013 – 9:00pm
In between the incredibly awful Adam West and the incredibly awesome Christian Bale we have Michael Keaton who is…meh. First of all he has a great sense of humor which makes him a terrible choice for Batman. He is not as brawny as Batman needs to be and he doesn’t project the barely contained rage on the precipice of insanity that is the hallmark of Batman. Okay, on second thought he does that last one way better than Adam West. This Batman also kills people, which I find to be out of synch with the character.
Batman’s love interest this time around is Vicki Vale, played by Kim Basinger. Leaving aside my pet peeve about comic books’ alliterative naming conventions, Vicki Vale is not my favorite character. Basinger is fine in the role; there is nothing wrong with her talent, but she does spend a lot of time screaming and fainting. If the Joker had tried to pull any of this crap on Selena Kyle or Talia al Ghul, he’d be missing half his teeth by the end of the show.
Then there’s the Joker. I don’t like this version of the character. Don’t get me wrong, Jack Nicholson was not a bad choice for the role, I just think they gave him some bad material to work with. The Joker is a force of chaos, he does not have a secret identity, he didn’t kill Bruce’s parents and he certainly doesn’t go around chasing skirts.
Billie Dee Williams shows up as Harvey Dent. He accepted the role so that he could play Two Face in the sequel, but when the sequel rolled around, they gave the part to someone else. I think that’s pretty low.
I’m not going to mention the plot. If you have reached the age where you are able to read, but don’t know Batman’s origin story, you are Amish and have no business being on the computer anyway. I will say that I love the scene where the news anchors are forced to go on air without make-up. The Joker taking down a plane with one shot from a revolver, however, is a bit much. Yes, you should expect to have to suspend some disbelief when you watch a Batman movie, considering Mythbusters disproved most of his gadgets, but there are limits. -Brian Roser
Howard The Duck
Fri, 08/02/2013 – 9:00pm
Before there was Ted, the bear, in 2012, there was Howard, the duck, in 1986. Howard the Duck is considered one of the worst movies of the 80s and this assessment is pretty accurate. It is not just a bad movie, it is an awesomely bad movie and as such it is an unforgettable cinematic experience.
Howard comes to Earth, specifically Cleveland, from Outer Space when he is accidentally beamed down in a scientific experiment run afoul (pun mercilessly intended). Howard is befriended by musician Beverly (Lea Thompson) who takes him to her apartment. There is a comedic scene, which is a precursor to Ted, where Beverly teasingly attempts to seduce Howard by asking him clad in her underwear if she “might find happiness in the animal kingdom.” However, unlike Ted the possibility of inter-species relationships does not transcend beyond friendship and innuendo. Howard is eventually hunted down by the authorities as the story progresses. The scientists who beamed him down, played by a brilliant Jeffrey Jones and a young Tim Robbins who reminds me of an overgrown Rick Moranis in this role. They, along with Beverly, take part in the action to save Howard and help him to return home.
Howard the duck looks like Macaulay Culkin and sounds like a seventeen-year-old used car salesman, but he apparently is hip enough to have his own theme song. Do you? -Anne Roser
Sat, 08/03/2013 – 8:00pm
Not to spoil it, but Rocky wins the final fight. This movie introduced the song “Eye of the Tiger” and launched the career of Mr. T as Clubber Lang. Other than that this movie has no reason to exist. There is no new ground to cover and the storyline hits the same points not only of every other sports movie out there, but every other Rocky movie as well.
After winning the boxing heavyweight championship, Rocky is very happy! There is a new challenger, Mr. T, who says Rocky has only been fighting sub-par boxers to hold on to his title. Rocky is sad when his coach tells him this is true. Then at the fight, his trainer dies and he loses to Mr. T. This makes Rocky very, very sad. But, he trains with his formal rival and his wife gives him a talking to, saying she believes in him! In the ring, Rocky uses the unique strategy of letting Mr. T beat the crap out of him until he is tired, then Rocky punches the mean old Mr. T and wins the match. This makes Rocky happy again!
It was briefly interesting to see Rocky as rich and complacent like Apollo was and Clubber Lang as poor, but driven like Rocky was. They really didn’t go anywhere with this, though. Mr. T’s victory is only a plot contrivance to twist the story into making Rocky the underdog again, so he can beat the odds and come out on top…which is where he started in the first place. I find it hard to count it as character growth if the character’s lot in life doesn’t actually change from the beginning of the film. Of course neither does the plot. Except for the first one, every single Rocky movie consists of Rocky wanting to retire, but coming back for one more fight. The first Rocky movie was excellent; the rest of them have just about worn the franchise down to nothing.-B.R.
Conan the Barbarian
Sat, 08/03/2013 – 11:00pm
You know, it’s been a while since I last saw a prominent Republican politician in a fur loincloth. On the other hand it has not been long since I heard James Earl Jones tell an incredulous young man that he really is his father.
This film is very good at what it does. It is an adventure-packed sword and sorcery movie aimed at young men. This means that it is replete with fight scenes, tough talk and bare boobies. There are, however, a few differences with the normal examples of the genre. Instead of a clone of Ye Merrye Olde Englande, it takes place on the Steppe. There are Asian characters and some of the weapons and armor are more evocative of the Mongols than the archers of Sherwood Forest. Whereas many other muscle bound heroes look like they have a guy just off camera ready with a spray bottle to spritz their glistening pecs, Conan looks like he smells bad. His girlfriend Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman, doesn’t wear make-up or chainmail bikinis. She is a statuesque blonde who is athletic enough to be able to actually wield the sword she carries into battle. As a side note, they couldn’t find a stuntwoman with a similar build, so Bergman had to do all her own stunts. Beat that Scarlet Johansson.
The movie revolves around Conan, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a boy, Conan survives an attack on his village only to be sold into slavery. As the years go by, he is promoted from walking around in circles to killing people in the arena. Once he is freed, he sets off on a journey to avenge the deaths of his parents. Along the way he meets up with the side-kick, the love interest and the old mentor guy. There is a quest and a tragedy, but in the end Conan finally confronts the evil doers, who look like they belong in a Motorhead cover band.
Somehow this movie seems to have a better sense of realism than other fantasy settings. There are random goats walking around the streets and nobody has armor that shines. Here, magic is not cast by children with glasses; it is both rare and disturbing. If you want to watch a movie with your significant other, find something else. If you want to watch a movie with the guys over a beer or three, then this is perfect. –B.R.
Mon, 08/05/2013 – 8:00pm
With a very special screening of: Interior. Leather Bar. to follow!
William Friedkin, who directed The Exorcist seven years earlier, helms this psychological thriller. It stars Al Pacino as officer Steve Burns, a New York City cop who goes deep undercover in the city’s gay S&M bars to solve some gruesome murders targeting patrons of clubs with such literal names as the Cock Pit and Ramrod. The film is loosely based on a book by Gerald Walker and real murders that occurred in New York City’s gay subculture between 1962 and 1979.
Karen Allen plays Steve’s girlfriend, who is at her breaking point in their relationship, especially since he refuses to discuss his current case and it seems to be taking a hold on him in more ways than one. The ambiguous ending will keep you guessing long after the credits have rolled. -Jane Roser
Interior. Leather Bar.
Mon, 08/05/2013 – 10:00pm
Renaissance man James Franco and his partner Travis Mathews direct and star in this Sundance Film Festival favorite. Released this past January with a running time of only 60 minutes, Interior. Leather Bar re-imagines the 40 minutes of footage set in a New York City gay leather bar that was rumored to have been cut from the film Cruising in order to avoid the stigma of an x-rating. You had me at James Franco and leather. -J.R.
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Thu, 08/08/2013 – 9:00pm
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was produced in 1987 as seemingly the last of the Elm Street movies, of course as we now know this was not the case. Part 3 is not as frightening as the first one (they never are), but it is conceptually well conceived if not always well executed.
The film takes place in a mental institution where the last of the Elm Street children are being kept under suicide watch. Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson, the survivor of the first Nightmare. She enters the institution as a graduate student of psychiatry, but her intention is to reveal the truth behind the children’s nightmares and save them from Freddy Krueger.
There are interesting revelations in the script, most famously that Freddy Krueger is “the bastard son of 100 maniacs.” I won’t give away what this means if you haven’t seen it, but it is one of the best quotes in horror movie history. There are some chilling special effects too, Freddy lifting his shirt to expose burnt flesh, imprisoning the souls of the children he has murdered, as well as the puppeteering of one of the Elm Street kids using the teen’s bloody ligaments as strings. However, the bad acting prevents this movie from being believable which in turn prevents it from being truly scary. –A.R.
The Lost Boys
Fri, 08/09/2013 – 9:00pm
“Sleep all day, party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.”
It was 1987 and I was a sophomore in high school, not yet old enough to see an R-rated movie, but I was determined to see The Lost Boys, so I had my dad take me. Ten minutes into the opening scene where a couple is attacked by some unseen force, my dad turns to me in the theater and groans “Jane. Really.” Obviously not everyone can appreciate the coolness of one of the best vampire films ever created. This is not your teeny bopper Twilight. Oh no. This is a scary, funny, witty, dramatic, exciting and unique genre film that redefined the vampire movie, making it hip, romantic and rock and roll.
Jason Patric plays Michael, who, with his younger brother Sam and mother Lucy, move in with their eccentric grandfather (Barnard Hughes) after Lucy gets divorced. Michael takes to wandering Santa Carla’s boardwalks at night where he meets (unbeknownst to him) a vampire biker gang led by David (a still wet behind the ears Kiefer Sutherland). Sam meanwhile takes up with the Frog Brothers led by Corey Feldman. The Frog Brothers work at their parent’s comic book store and fight vampires (well, in theory they do).
Michael makes the mistake of drinking David’s blood (in his defense, he thought it was wine) and becoming a half vampire, which he discovers when he all of a sudden he finds he has levitated to the ceiling. Sam, channeling Max Headroom in several weird outfits, tried to save his brother and, with the help of the Frog Brothers, slay the vampires.
The Lost Boys aka The Bloodsucking Brady Bunch has a killer soundtrack and some of the funniest lines you’ll ever hear in a horror film: “My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. Boy you wait til mom finds out, buddy!” And I guarantee you won’t forget the vampire who meets his doom by means of “death by stereo.” You almost want these wayward bloodsuckers to win. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be David, all cool and badass in his long leather jacket, motorcycle and spiky hair? “My blood is in your veins.” Not many people could make that actually sound sexy, but Kiefer sure as hell does. –J.R.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Sat, 08/10/2013 – 9:00pm
I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark at least three times when it was released in 1981. I decided then and there that I wanted to be an archaeologist. I actually worked for two summers at archaeological dig sites before realizing that Indiana Jones was more of a treasure hunter than an archaeologist.
Raiders was the top grossing film of 1981 and became so iconic that Indy’s hat and jacket are now on display at the Smithsonian. Directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas, the film follows archaeologist Indiana Jones as he tries to prevent the Nazis from locating the Ark of the Covenant and harnessing it’s power to use against the Allies. Karen Allen plays Indy’s love interest Marion Ravenwood who spends most of the film screaming and shouting insults at everyone who crosses her path. Tom Selleck was also considered for the role of Indiana Jones and I shudder to think what that film would have been like.
From the beginning sequence where Indy is being chased by a giant boulder in South America to the excavation of the ark in Egypt to the final exhilarating finale when the ark is opened and all hell breaks loose, Raiders of the Lost Ark is better than the serial films of the 1930s and 40s that Spielberg and Lucas were trying to recreate. It’s become a legend in its own right. –J.R.
Mon, 08/12/2013 – 8:00pm
Every girl has had a Jake Ryan at some point in their life. This film, with rude humor and a chaotic, flawed family has become one of the most identifiable movies of the 80’s and deservedly so.
Sixteen Candles was directed by John Hughes and starred Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker, a 16-year-old lost in love whose family forgets her birthday amid the ensuing craziness of her sister’s upcoming wedding. Samantha pines for Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), a hot senior who doesn’t know she exists, but is tired of his annoying, equally as hot girlfriend. Jake starts to notice Sam, Sam is stalked by ‘geek’ Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) who, in a moment of either incredible crassness of incredible ballsiness, asks Sam if he may “borrow your underwear for 10 minutes.” That scene became a warning to young women everywhere. When a weirdo asks for your panties, you say no.
The ensemble of hilarious characters is what makes this film so fun. From the grandparents to Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong, it’s a revolving door of eccentricity and humiliating moments. My favorite line from this film occurs after a wild party and Long Duk Dong winds up passed out drunk on the front lawn. When grandpa tries to wake him up, Dong says “No more yankie my wankie. The Donger need food!” I have also decided that would make a great ring tone for my cell phone. –J.R.
The Neverending Story
Thu, 08/15/2013 – 9:00pm
The ominous Nothing is sweeping through Fantasia displacing its varied inhabitants. The child hunter of the white buffalo, Atreju is summoned by the Empress to find a way to stop the Nothing. In an imaginative twist Atreju is joined by the reader of the book, Bastian to fight the Nothing.
The Neverending Story leaves a lasting impression on any child to live a life of action, compassion and imagination. It is filled with transporting settings. I love the world of the empress where the powerful colors make the landscape look like a Maxfield Parrish poster, and creative characters. My favorite character as a child was the gentle walking earthquake, the Rockbiter, but who doesn’t love the flying Tapioca pudding buffet that is Falcor, the Luck Dragon. Incidentally you can still take a ride on Falcor at the Filmplatz in Munich, Germany. I am not sure but the Gmork may be lurking around the corner! Yikes! –A.R.
Over The Top
Fri, 08/16/2013 – 9:00pm
This film renewed my faith in the American theater going public, but first let me tell you about how badly it sucks. Everything you need to know about the movie is conveyed before the first line of dialogue is ever spoken. The main character, played by Sylvester Stallone is driving his truck full of farm equipment through America’s purple mountains majesty when the words ‘co-written by Sylvester Stallone’ appear on the screen.
Stallone shows up at his son’s military middle school graduation in suspenders and clip on tie. Despite never having visited his kid in ten years, Stallone’s divorced wife thinks it would be a good idea for father and son to bond on a road trip in his semi to her deathbed. The side of his truck is painted with, and I am not making this up, ‘Brut – It smells like a man’. On the trip, the kid teaches his father that steak is bad for you and he teaches his son about the exciting world of arm wrestling.
When the child’s mother dies, the grandfather thinks, I have no idea why, that Sly would not make a good parent. Stallone sets out to prove everyone wrong by winning the international arm wrestling championship. Because, yeah that makes sense. At the match there are contestants who eat cigars and drink Valvoline, thinking that the mark of a true champion is his intestinal fortitude. The announcer proclaims that it is double elimination at which point, the audience immediately realizes two things – Sly will lose one match, and the rules don’t apply to other arm wrestlers. The height of dramatic tension comes when the announcer states “The strap is going to be put on.” It only occurred to me later that the director didn’t mean for the audience to laugh there.
For some strange reason when I heard about the title of this movie, I thought it would be about WWI. When it bombed, I was disappointed that American viewers would not embrace a film with historical subject matter. When I actually saw it, my faith in my fellow countrymen was renewed. It seems that for all of our faults, not even we are low brow enough to watch this crap. –B.R.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Sat, 08/17/2013 – 9:00pm
You can tell these clowns are badass because they’re spelled with a “K”.
The movie starts when a couple of teens at the local make-out spot see a meteorite land nearby and go to investigate. It turns out that it is actually a spaceship with evil aliens dressed like clowns who are here to capture people and eat them. They let you in on the idea that the movie is a comedy when the first to die is the local farmer who uses the word “hornswaggled.”
The teens go to the local sheriff who believes them, and his deputy, played by John Vernon, who does not. The town is nearly destroyed by the clowns, their balloon animals and shadow puppets, but the heroes manage to infiltrate the mother ship, kill the leader and save the town.
I gotta say, I think this is a bad movie. Yes I know that when you name a movie ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’, you do not expect people to take it seriously. That is part of the problem, though. Yes, clowns are creepy, but there are times when the movie seems to actually be trying to scare you, which doesn’t work. Everyone seems to be acting in a different movie. The ice cream-truck-driving best friends are acting in a comedy, while the others seem to be gliding through a Gap commercial. John Vernon is the only one in the film who has neither youthful good looks nor a clown mask, so he is unfortunately forced to fall back on things like actual talent. Yes, he’s pretty much just reprising his role as Dean Wormer in Animal House, but we don’t care, because he was awesome in that and everyone else is really bad. The movie tries to walk the tightrope between comedy, horror and camp and fails at all three. Word to the wise: when you walk a tightrope, take off the clown shoes.
The film has become a cult classic. I can’t blame those who see this as a guilty pleasure, I know I have movies that are bad and I still enjoy them. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, however is not one of them. –B.R.