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Not like any Schoolies I've ever been to
As an Australian who has experienced the cultural event known as 'Schoolies', I was hoping that this movie would do the tradition justice. But I was disappointed, and wrong. Really wrong.
If you're looking for a dose of sugary syrup, then this is the movie for you. From the opening scenes, where one of the characters is staring at the blackboard, reading some famous quote, and reflecting on it's significance, I could feel the vomit rising in my throat. I mean, COME ON! Don't the writers know the meaning of the word 'subtle'? Or do they think their audience is too stupid to think for themselves? We don't need to have the theme of the movie WRITTEN in front of us, so that we understand. And Schoolies does not usually occur 12 hours after the last day of school- there's a little thing called Exams, which generally come first. And what's with the kids running around like maniacs, celebrating the last day of school? I almost thought I was watching 'Grease' for a second, and half-expected them to burst into a song-and-dance routine. It just doesn't happen.
As for the writers...well, I would love to know where they went to Schoolies, because their depiction was totally unrealistic. Do you really think that there is that much soul-searching and personal reflection going on at Schoolies? Nope. The only reason people go to Schoolies is to party and have sex. Schoolies isn't, as one character said, 'the journey from the back of the bus to the middle' (by the way, does anyone believe that teenagers even think/talk like that?), but a chance to get drunk every night. That's it. And even if some Schoolies participants DO get all philosophical and syrupy and corny like this, it is the wrong angle to take in a movie that is trying to look hip and laid-back and realistic.
The characters were incredibly 2-D, from the uptight prude (who wears horn-rimmed glasses, and dresses like a secretary, and eats cheese squares...ok we get it! She's a Prude! Enough Already!) to the geeky nerd who gets a chance with the popular chick. How dumb are we supposed to be? Are we only capable of being entertained by cardboard cut-outs?
The acting was okay, though mostly over-the-top...the cast seemed to be all sparkly eyes and smiles and energy, which is an unrealistic depiction of post-adolescence (even if they ARE on their way to Schoolies). It just made me want to scream 'Act natural! And while you're at it, take some acting lessons!' On a high-point though, Charlotte Rees, who plays Amanda, was memorable and amusing in her drunken stupor, as was Petra Jared, playing Yolanda. The climax of the hitchhiking scene, with the Pigman, was hilarious, I admit, and a couple of the Apartment scenes weren't too bad...though, I still can't get over the cheese squares.
This movie seemed to want to do too much, and thought that by adding philosophical, whimsical, reflective moments every 15-20 minutes, it could strike at the heart of the viewer. The problem is that there is no justification or build-up for these moments, and therefore the audience should not be expected to feel emotion for characters who have no personality, no realism, and no time for deeper exploration in an ensemble feature such as this.
And another thing...do you think anyone would just pull the emergency-stop button on a train, jump out and start walking, without thinking about their luggage, or if they would even be able to find the train again? And do you think anyone would abandon their seat on a bus and start walking, without first remembering about their luggage, or their $300 hotel bond that they were coincidentally going to lose in half an hour? And do you think ANYONE can just start walking down a highway and magically end up at Schoolies? This happens several times throughout the movie, to several characters, and its hard to believe that all these characters are stupid enough to go walking on a highway with no luggage, food or shelter. No, its called bad writing. Speaking of writing, I read that this movie was based on a play...I sure hope it didn't disappoint as many people as this film is surely destined to. One word- wrong.
Mixed Nuts (1994)
Hilarious! Watched it 10 times over!
This is an underrated classic film that utilizes the comic skills of several great actors. I watched it twice through the first day I rented it, just to hear the great one-liners and see the crazy antics of a bunch of neurotic phone counsellors. Praise must go to Madeline Kahn (late), who performs hilariously, especially in the elevator scene, and later gives us a sample of her beautiful operatic voice. Rita Wilson's character is cheerily naive, Juliette Lewis is wacky and fun, and Liev Schriber is scene-stealing as the cross-dresser...the dance scene with him and Steve Martin is one of the highpoints of the film, especially with Liev spinning solo around the room. And Adam Sandler is wonderful as the musical neighbour- his singing 'hello' had me laughing for the rest of the movie. This is ONE wacky film, but unlike recent productions, which seem to scream 'look at me! I'm a wacky film! I've got weird characters and an oddball script!', Mixed Nuts doesn't have to. It just is. And that's good enough reason to watch it.
A Chorus Line (1985)
A Showcase of Promising Stars...
A Chorus Line is a flashy spectacle, combining music, dance, and drama into an overall fairly successful production. The music, though no comparison to the original broadway version, is nevertheless catchy, though the singing is, at times, amateur. The acting, however, is surprisingly skillful, considering that the performers are more dancers than actors. The dancing is, of course, the showcase of the movie, and it delivers, aided by the best camera-work I have ever seen in a movie musical. The camera manages to capture the essence of ever dance and every song, and this is probably it's greatest production strength. Performance strengths, lie however in several of the stars- Cameron English, who plays the tortured Paul with intense sensitivity; Alyson Reed, as Cassie, a natural and talented dancer, but now struggling to find a job; and Vicki Frederick in the most captivating performance within the movie, as Sheila, an aggressive ageing dancer, with a bitter resentment and a smart mouth. Other talents include Gregg Burge (late), Nicole Fosse, Audrey Landers, and Michael Douglas, who performs effectively, yet uninspiringly, and pales in comparison to the rest of the energetic cast. On the surface, A Chorus Line is just a musical, yet underneath, thanks to a sensitive and touching script, it is a reflection of the talent, regret, hope and desperation of those struggling to survive under the Broadway lights.
Beautiful and Intense
Radiance is a powerful Australian drama, set against beautiful rural backdrops, but it is the visuals within the story which leave the strongest impression. The intense scenes within the film are strengthened by their beautiful depiction on camera, as if the movie is an artwork. The music is also a major player here, with operatic arias being used unconventionally, yet effectively, against the rural scenery. The performances are spectacular, with Deborah Mailman, Trisha Morton-Thomas and Rachael Maza playing the sisters, separated, but brought together through the death of their mother. Maza is particularly touching as the musical talent in the family, now a successful opera singer, but bitter at having to return home, to her traumatic and troubled roots. A beautiful, heart-tugging 'artwork', well worth the effort.