Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The 70s were such a different time for teenage girls!
I loved, and still love this movie. When it came out, I was 12, and living a rather sheltered existence in Sacramento, which was very much like a Northern Californian version of the SoCal's "The Valley".
This movie does a very realistic job of portraying how different things were for teenagers back in that era. Today's teens have been raised by parents who've bought into the idea that they need to be around their kids 24/7--the whole attachment parenting thing. Young kids spend most of their time around their adult parents, and if they do hang out with other kids, they are highly supervised "play dates". They grow into teens who may have some online freedom, but most likely are regimented into structured "programs"--lessons, classes, teams or clubs with high degrees of adult supervision. Parents often try their hardest to be seen as "friends", with the hope that their teen will share every little last thing about their lives, so different from the generation gap I recall in the late 70s/early 80s when I was that age.
And these parents have very little of an adult life outside of their precious darlings-- so unlike what I recall of my parents and their large circle of friends with their frequent dinner parties and kid-free vacations and camping trips. Today's parent would have a guilt trip of epic proportions if it was even suggested that they spend adult time away from the kiddies.
They might just be turned in to CPS if they allowed their teenagers to have even the tiniest amount of freedom as the 4 "Foxes" did in this thoughtful and revealing movie. Teenage girls aimlessly driving around, taking buses by themselves down to Hollywood, and having a much older boyfriend with a cool adults-not-welcome party pad would simply never happen in today's helicopter-parented middle classes.
My teenage years in the early 80s weren't quite as free as these girls had it, but I remember endless nights spent driving around in a car full of friends with a "suitcase" of cheap Shafer beer, often ending up at the party house belonging to a bunch of 20- something guys--with nary a parent in sight, and no constant texting or calling ones' parents every hour. There was plenty of beer and pot, and lots of kids were having sexual relationships. And yet somehow we all made it--my group of pals all went to university; no one got arrested, addicted or pregnant.
Kids like Annie who overdid it were around--though not many suffered the same extreme fate as Cheri Currie's character did. Ironically, Annie was the one with the MOST parental involvement, albeit an abusive authoritarian jerk of a father, and yet she has the toughest road to follow.
Jodie Foster is, unsurprisingly, excellent, playing yet another smart, capable and sophisticated-beyond-her-years teen, unflinchingly blasé about sex, booze, and 'ludes until she needs to be emotional about Annie's behavior that is getting her closer and closer to being involuntarily committed to a mental ward. Foster's sheer intelligence is so evident even in those early years; it's no surprise to me that she became such a huge success, and so well-respected for the depth and excellence of both her acting and directing.
I really do love this movie, but boy howdy does it highlight how much society has changed in regards to its views of childhood, teenagerdom, and adults' roles. I must admit that I'm rather nostalgic for those freer times when there was more of a healthy boundary between teenagers and their parents position in their lives. "Foxes" is a stylish yet very realistic look at Valley girls before they were "Valley Girls".
State of Play (2013)
Authoritarianism, Narcissism and Toxic Parenting
This was an excellent documentary that largely dispensed with any biased narration, instead opting to stand out of the way to let the unbelievably shocking behavior of these most abusive of parents tell the story. The mother of the tennis twins is more simply obsessed with success, and is not nearly as horrible as the 3 fathers, who share the scary combination of two toxic personality disorders, authoritarianism and narcissism. In the ultra-competitive venue of today's childhood sports, they have found the ideal forum for asserting their need for absolute dominance and power.
The 3 fathers are first and foremost childish, truculent bullies. They all share a middling to low level of intelligence as they parrot self- help sports books that they only partially understand, but they all have an exaggerated high opinion of their own intelligence and importance, thus permitting the abusive behavior and their complete isolation from other adults who can call them on their pretenses.
Most frightening was watching Golf Dad and Football Dad berate their children with such singular anger, wildly inappropriate bad language and truly painful name-calling. I realized that some parents really are capable of not loving their children. Rather they see them as objects to bully and completely dominate, with endless sets of the authoritarian's rules that are set up so that no one can successfully follow them all.
I truly fear for Justus, the football son. He's not an above-average football player, which sets him up for ever-escalating tirades of abuse, and his more sensitive personality leaves him constantly wounded and suffering, with no defenses. This kind of misery leads to addictions or suicide in an effort to escape, and this film was chilling in the way it unflinchingly showed the bleak road ahead for this sad young man. This kind of mental abuse should earn this selfish bully of a father prison time.
Live from Daryl's House (2007)
Groundbreaking, Excellent Music Series
I got hooked into this series while looking for a Fitz and the Tantrum's video on YouTube. I noticed that they had performed a cover of Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile" and immediately thought that this must be a great video. The singer Fitz from FATT has many of the same great qualities as Daryl Hall in both his voice and his approach to perfectly done blue-eyed soul.
I ended up watching a "Live at Daryl's House" marathon, and in the process was introduced to a lot of bands I'd either never heard before or ever heard of at all, Neon Trees being an early favorite. Neon Tree's version of "Adult Education" with Daryl and their iconoclastic lead singer trading off verses was great, and the Trees members were grinning nonstop. Daryl has a real expert's eye when it comes to choosing who will share the stage with him and his crack-on band. His guests all have the same comment: that they really admire him and his amazing career, that he was a down-to-earth guy and that doing his show was a lot of fun.
You get the sense that Daryl is doing this for the sheer love of music. He has an excellent rapport with his band and never comes across as a diva--they seem to really respect him and like working with him. He looks like he is having a great time in every single episode, like it never gets old for him and his enthusiasm is infectious. Even a known grumpy curmudgeon like Todd Rundgren manages to have a good time. And he's very gracious and disarming when he accepts the inevitable praise from his guests as they dive into his deep catalogue of some of pop music's most classic and enduring gems.
The vignettes that fill in around the musical numbers are well-filmed and the show has an overall high production value. He uses the same formula for each show: the guest(s) are interviewed as they drive up to his upstate NY compound, he shows them around his gorgeous collection of pristine Revolutionary War residence and outbuildings, they settle into the live studio and banter back and forth while working on songs, then they cook something, have dinner, and do some more songs, ending with a closing interview. By the way, I've come to really like the food/cooking angle. Rather than being an awkward add-on, the food is interesting and the guests become more relaxed and "into it" with the promise of a gourmet dinner. It it one more revealing facet of Daryl's personality: he's an earnest, intelligent and tasteful aesthete who makes the viewer want his relaxed, casually sophisticated lifestyle. None of this feels overly scripted, canned or phoned in, like what happens to most reality series, and after 60+ episodes, Daryl Hall still looks like he's thrilled with the discovery of new bands and old friends.
That's what's kept him so young; keeping up with all the new bands. (And let me say that he looks INCREDIBLE for a guy in his mid-60s. Wow.) It would be so easy for him to live in his storied past and become a nostalgia act--most guys with his fame and age do just that, But Daryl Hall has more adventuresome musical taste than most teenage hipsters, and I really appreciate him for introducing me to so many great artists. Conversely, his "vintage" guests are like a who's who of what young fans and musicians alike need to know.
My favorite episodes were with Joe Walsh, Sharon Jones (Dap Kings), Neon Trees, Dirty Heads, Nick Lowe and the aforementioned Fitz and the Tantrums. With 60+ episodes, there's plenty for music lovers of all kinds to choose.
Dark Blue (2002)
High tension thriller with awesome screen writing
I was kind of shocked into submission by "Dark Blue". The movie doesn't slow down from minute 1 and it's not a short film, so that edge of your seat adrenaline might seem to fade, but it didn't for me--all the way to the awesome Kurrupt remix of a Porno for Pyros track during the credits. That song was so right on for the overall theme of the film that it got me off the couch to write this review.
This was the rare cop movie with very few scenes, if any, of gratuitous violence, though the film is very violent and angry. The filming of the LA riot scenes were chilling--because I was actually in LA during them and saw some crazy stuff. Whomever set up the sets for those shots had to have been there--the sheer chaos and random, explosive aggression out of nowhere was intimately captured. Scary stuff.
Kurt Russell has played so many cops that you almost think that he'd be uncastable at this point. This is not the case. This is the darkest, and most tortured I've ever seen him, and it's because his character is truly complex, and not all a bad guy. You are appalled at what he does, and yet root for him because he has an essential goodness in him that he painfully and tragically redeems at the film's end.
Another masterful LA movie in the same pantheon, though perhaps maybe one or two steps down from "LA Confidential" and the king of them all, "Chinatown".
An Excellent Movie That You Haven't Heard Of
"Loosies" is an unexpectedly excellent movie that received zero hype, but made it onto Showtime's movie rotation, which has allowed me to view it multiple times. I've found that only truly great movies can survive multiple viewings, as you get the opportunity to really dissect the screen writing, editing and acting, and only the strong survive such close scrutiny. The casting is one of "Loosies" strongest points, starting with Peter Facinelli as the lead, and whom is apparently the main driving and creative force behind the picture, as he is listed with Production and Screen writing/Story credits.
Facinelli would be difficult to cast as a truly malevolent villain, as his handsome face is so naturally open and friendly and he is possessed of an enviable comic timing that he uses with restrained subtlety in the role of Bobby, the Pickpocket-With-a-Heart-of-Gold. He surrounds himself with a tight group of the industry's greatest character actors.
Facinelli's hero is bookended by two well-written and played villains: the lizard-like Vincent Gallo as the amoral, fatally greedy psychopath and criminal Jax, with Gallo pulling out all the "Gallo stops" and playing the dirty bathrobe-wearing Jax with a greasy glory; and Jax's opposite, Lt. Nick Sullivan, a bent cop with as much villainous ill temper as Jax, played by the always-great Michael Madsen, with a seething, explosive anger just barely below the surface. These twin poles of evil bedevil Bobby throughout the movie, and make for the high amount of tension between the main characters that drives the tightly written plot forward.
Lastly, is Joe Pantoliano, cast against type as the deceptively nebbish Carl, whom ends up being the hero's loyal sidekick after a number of amusing trials. Gone is the typical Pantoliano Italian-American swagger, instead replaced with a touching sweetness backed up with a well camouflaged, non-macho toughness. At the end of the film, bobby and Carl, at first at odds with each other, have become fast friends, and I felt truly happy about Bobby's future without it being spelled out for me.
I was particularly impressed by the Gallo's character, Jax. This is a meaty role, and Gallo, kind of nutso in his own right, really digs in. He thrives on being a boorish bully and wildly overestimates his own intelligence and sophistication as he surrounds himself with a pathetic crew of sycophants who are even more stupid than Jax,but just barely.
Bobby uses Jax's stupidity and greed against him, as he carries out a very clever plan that relies entirely on smarts as opposed to physical might. Watching this plan unfold is among the most entertaining scenes in the film. Jax is drawn in by Carl's mention of $500K of diamonds, and his greed blinds him to many obvious signs of warning. After Carl skillfully grabs ahold of the wad of cash in Jax's hand that was intended to be just for show, Jax is forced to realize that his supposedly carefully laid trap for Carl might not be so invincible. The bitter and annoyed sideways glances Jax gives to Carl in the taxi are priceless.
Even at the point when he should be happy about getting away with a huge score, Jax manages to still be cruel and selfish as he cuts Bobby out and doles out a pathetically small portion to his comrade, being mean and nasty as he always is. Jax only shows happiness when he is either exercising his bully power over someone or when he thinks he's getting away with something; he showed such greasy satisfaction when he turned Bobby in to the cops, with no embarrassment at all at being a snitch, something that in his world would be a huge crime.
The final Jax scene, when his door is bust open by Lt. Sullivan and his group of thug cops, is doubly satisfying as Jax gets what's been coming to him for years from such an unsavory character as the Lieutenant. And Lt. Sullivan, who was so obsessed with catching the cocky criminal who stole his badge and paraded it around town, is catching the wrong guy, which is also satisfying as you don't want such a nasty, bent cop to succeed.
The combination of very well-drawn characters perfectly cast with an airtight, fun plot makes this movie as good as it is. I've now seen it about 8 times, and have not yet grown tired of it. I highly recommend seeing "Loosies", with it's excellent cast, dark and sweet humor, and thrilling cops and robbers-with-a-twist plot. A true dark horse.
Last Night (2010)
I really enjoyed watching this film the first time, and even more the next 3 or 4 times it came on Showtime. Repeated viewings gave me deeper feelings for the characters, and more insight into their motivations.
Joanna continues to resonate as the deepest, most sympathetic character, and this may be in part because of Keira Knightly's always excellent acting, plus the fact that Knightly is fundamentally so appealing. One feels that Joanna may have chosen to return to marry Michael after her dalliance with Alex in earlier years, for the wrong reasons: stability, comfort, the insecurity of having been a younger, less mature woman at that time.
Joanna is capable of feeling great passion, evidenced both by her lasting chemistry with Alex and her righteous, instinctive jealousy issues with Michael before he leaves on his trip. She is also quite intellectually complex, and has the self-recognition that she's changed, matured in past years, while her husband may not have, or at least has not caught up with her yet.
Alex is an excellent foil for Joanna, and I immediately was kind of rooting for him rather than Michael, as the filmmaker sets you up to be down on Joanna/Michael's marriage from the get-go with the revelation of Laura at the party, about whom Michael was less than forthright. You can see Alex and Joanna eventually seriously getting together, and that each one is the possibly ideal mate for the other. When they do flirt and emotionally bond that night, there is really more at stake than the physical intimacy that occurred with the relatively cheap Laura and her manipulations and mindgames with Michael. In this sense, Joanna's intense emotional bonding is perhaps the greater "cheat". But one also feels the weight of inevitability between Joanna and Alex.
With each viewing, Laura becomes more and more manipulative and dark, possibly even malevolent, and certainly damaged. Everything out of her mouth seems intensely calculated to draw Michael in closer, and seems to have been planned; practiced. When "the usual" massively armed battery of her seductive moves: cocktails exclusively away from the colleagues, shyly bringing up the minutiae behind the supposedly loaded meaning of where a hand was placed in weeks past, more cocktails and flirting, and finally the swimming pool don't seal the deal, she resorts to heavy artillery with the very emotional story about her dead husband and how he had cheated on her. She senses that Michael will try to rescue the damsel-in-distress, and so she very effectively becomes one.
I find myself wondering if ANYTHING Laura said or did was true. While one can verify events and histories that took place between Joanna, Michael and Alex, Laura, recently hired at Michael's firm, seems to have appeared out of nowhere, to be everywhere that Michael is. I can see a past for her that includes many occurrences of these types of seductive and emotionally manipulative episodes. If this is the case, then she is a malevolent character, and I suspect it is. Eva Mendes plays her this way, with just enough skittishness/damage and narrowing of her eyes into a knowing cat-like grin to embody a femme fatale, not an innocent young widow. Michael feels not just uncomfortable, but dirty after being with her, perhaps sensing that he's been had by someone who truly wasn't worth it, as he hurries back to the one who IS worth it.
This film does suffer a bit from "rich person porn": the insanely spacious-for-Manhattan condo that screams money just from its size and location, to say nothing about the architecturally pristine interiors featuring artful and luxurious surfaces and living spaces, and closets full of the kind of subtly cut, richly-made clothes that are really really cool and expensive. With the exception of Laura, they also all live in a high-powered, elite community of intellectual upper-class ex-pats whom practically scream their cool quotient. Laura, by picturesque contrast, comes across as somewhat crass, uneducated and unsophisticated/classless: she doesn't and will never fit in. Thank goodness for the excellent character drawing, screen writing and acting, because these things can be distancing for the audience who isn't in (or isn't even aware of) that upper-echelon of wealthy and sophisticated Manhattanites, and Parisians in Alex's case.
All in all, a subtle, complex film that is one of those rare movies that bears repeated viewings: I highly recommend it!
Sneaky and catchy, wills its way into your heart
This movie is playing on Showtime, and I've been laid up in bed with nothing much to do but read, surf the web and watch TV, so thank god for Showtime!! This movie initially was something I avoided, since I usually really hate kid movies. But strike that; I learned that I really hated *American* kid movies; British kiddie films (and romcoms) are so much better and much more fun. Although Brit humour is right up front, these movies tend not to be dripping with the kind of bottomless cynicism and coy promotion of greedy materialism that lies at the heart of most American movies aimed at the rated G set.
For example, in Nativity!, all the kids come from decidedly the underprivileged and underdog working classes, and their chief rival is a posh upper-class school. In an American film, the gold at the heart of the rainbow would have been literally that: gold. The kids would somehow end up fabulously rich at the end, and their poor, belabored working class parents would now able to buy them everything they could possibly want at Christmastime--the true American dream. In Nativity!, all they really want to do is put on a wicked good holiday show and maybe get their depressed teacher back with his girl. Christmas is not nearly as commercialized and monetized in Europe and the UK, and this aspect is very refreshing whilst watching a movie about the one season that American has utterly and completely ruined. I'm usually quite the grinch about our holiday season, but watching this movie made me happy that all the world is not American. (I'm waiting for someone to call me un-American and a Euro Socialist, hee hee) The musical scene at the end; the Nativity play in all its glory, is stupendous. Simply put, the songs are so catchy that I actually had to buy the soundtrack, which will be a neat from-leftfield addition to the usual hackneyed Christmas music selection. (Note to Americans: in general, the Brits have it all over us in the Xmas music department. They have a yearly holiday music competition, and some pretty great songs have come out of it. Whenever I play my Brit Xmas CDs, everyone is instantly singing along to songs they've heard for the first time, and asking me who it is.) The staging of the kids and the way they handled modernizing the nativity theme for the 7-13 set was really quite amazing. For instance, all of the kids want to please their parents who've never had a chance at anything grest, and want to play the Mary or Joseph role. So, the teacher devises a way in which they ALL can individually be Mary and Joseph in the staging of one of the central musical numbers. Great costumes and sets, and I liked that the kids were NOT too-cutesy, been-there-done-that Hollywood kid pros, as would have been the case in anything American. (One reviewer expressed relief in being able to take her pre-teen girl to see something fun that didn't feature Hanna Montana and shopping: too true!) Some of the kids really can sing, and the ones who are just OK make up for it in pure enjoyment of what they're doing. As others have mentioned, I LOVED the little sprite who played Bob, with his funny strong country accent and rock-n-roll attitude. I imagine I'll be seeing more of that kid; he's too cute and full of a natural energy to slip through the cracks.
Redemption Road (2010)
Great acting, screen writing and directing: great production
My dad is a huge blues fan, and when I was a very affected mod/new wave teenager in the 1980s, he would sneak me into his favorite haunts to see what I now know was some pretty legendary stuff. So when I ran across the opening credits whilst cruising Showtime, I was immediately hooked by the first of many searingly authentic blues club scenes. Obviously, the key people attached to this movie really gave a shite about this hard-to-pin-down genre of music.
All throughout the film, it was the excellence of those key people that really made the movie so great. Morgan Simpson, co-writer, producer, and central actor brings a lot to this movie, and he managed to attract some heavy hitters like just about every other actor, especially Tom Skerritt and Michael Clark Duncan, and the criminally undersung Mario Van Peebles as director. There must have been a huge amount of synergy between Van Peebles and Simpson, because their movie is very fully realized, artfully shot, and brings alive the characters with amazing depth of emotion. Yes, I too cried.
My favorite movies are made by guys like Polanski, Scorcese and P.T. Anderson, who totally commit to every aspect of their project, and this movie has that passion. I can see where some might find the storyline and ending, and some of the "fortune cookie" platitudes a bit trite, but I understand: this is an unabashedly sentimental film refreshingly absent of the jadedness/irony/ennui in which many indie directors overindulge.
I read a review in an Austin paper in which the reviewer really savages Morgan Simpson's acting performance. She could not be more wrong. I had never seen this actor before, but after being very affected by the depth of his performance, I looked up the movie on IMDb, and saw that he was very key to the overall production of the film, which impressed me even more. And after looking at his fresh-faced photo on his bio page, I got the sense that he really inhabited his character, because he was quite physically transformed into a rather crusty, shady guy whom you really don't want to like, but end up shedding tears for.
All in all, a surprising big film that also feels very dark horse. Love it.
It's Pat: The Movie (1994)
Inane "Balls-Out" Cult Classic
That "It's Pat" gets such low ratings is a classic example of humour-challenged viewers misunderstanding classic broad farce and absurdity. This movie is in no way meant to be sophisticated, and the fact that it appears cheaply made simply adds to the fun.
Another message on the IMDb message board noted that Pat's personality on SNL was much sweeter, whereas she's really quite a self-absorbed, obnoxious oaf in "It's Pat". I think that the loutish Pat is far the funnier--she takes herself so seriously, and even if she wasn't a mysterious he/she, her outlandish and unearned self-confidence would be great comedy in and of itself. There were times when her pure selfishness and disdain for other's comfort and happiness made me LOL to the point where I was crying--Julia Sweeney really went "balls-out" (sorry) with her over-the-top comedy chops.
Two of my favorite motifs were Pat's instrument that she played on-stage with Ween: A FREAKING TUBA!!! How freaking perfect is that??? And having Camille Paglia as on-air commentary is meta hilarious. Paglia adds a faux-serious über-intellectual touch as the most perfect choice for "intellectual" commentary on unusual/abnormal sexuality in film to the most lowbrow of lowbrow flicks.
Folks, this is broad, ridiculous comedy that we're not supposed to take seriously--at all. It's almost childish/cartoonish in its style except there actually is a level of sophistication to many of the sexual orientation jokes. I just cannot figure out the mindset of those who were giving "It's Pat" zero and one-star ratings--were they sitting in front of their TV and saying, "that's not an accurate depiction of human behavior; I'm holding out for some GD François Truffaut!!!" Grab some orange juice, a banana, and some walnuts, and sit back and enjoy the inanity!
Feeling Moody___Very Moody...Like This
I love love love this film. Susan Seidelman showing massive potential. Perhaps because this was her first film, we get to meditate within the extremely stark minimalism that so completely captures The Scene. Lots of reviewers have incorrectly alluded to the "punk rock" scene--this is NYC well past the heyday of '77. This is not the noisy brash Ramones-fueled mania of NYC punk rock; rather this is the entirely anodyne No Wave scene. And anodyne is what we get in Wren, the well-cast heroine.
Rather than dwell on the plot/theme, I find myself picking apart the amazing costume, set dressing, locations and music/score because Seidelman absolutely gets it right. And getting something as preciously cool as an underground fashion/art/music scene right is really difficult, yet Seidelman, with refreshing restraint, really lives within this world.
Wren's whole look is so spot on--her skinnyness, choppy red hair, statement shades and those clothes...that iconic first look with the vinyl herringbone mini with colorblocked shell and belt, ripped fishnets and Capezio "character" dance shoes is exactly what a downtown army of cool chicks was wearing back then. Her other outfits let you know how important style is to the superficial Wren, and to that whole world of No Wave hipsters who haunt the Peppermint Lounge.
Lee Quinones is credited with graffiti, and the van as well as the wall behind it serve as super minimal set dressing that perfectly ties in with the mood. I also love it when Wren does her own graffiti, spraypainting her name with a long tail leading to a paint-circled flyer with her image--very cool.
The music is memorable as well--I'd love to get my hands on a soundtrack. Besides the Feelies' score, there are so many great tracks, especially the Richard Hell/Voidoids track, and one of my all-time favorite NYC No Wave bands, ESG with "Moody". That hypnotic song practically defines that era.
Reading the credits is great fun, as Seidelman gathered a cast of thousands of downtown/Village denizens for both acting and production roles. It is this skill for gathering together this kind of hard-to-find talent from outside the film industry to create something 100% authentic that makes Seidelman such a good director; her instincts in this first outing are solid.