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Days of Thunder (1990)
Wow, what a retread!
I finally saw this movie last night after being aware of it for 16 years. I had been reading up on producer Don Simpson, and realized that not only is this movie another Simpson-Bruckheimer production with Tom Cruise starring and Tony Scott directing, but it actually has a screenplay by Robert Towne! Wow, they must have really wanted to throw Towne a bone, because I soon realized this picture is literally Top Gun on wheels. Every major plot point is the same, from the Cruise character's buddy being taken out of the action by an accident(Michael Rooker now instead of Anthony Edwards), to Cruise falling for a smart, professional, tough, much taller beauty(Nicole Kidman this time instead of Kelly McGillis), to Cruise having to overcome a confidence problem and get back in the saddle(helped along by Robert Duvall here instead of Tom Skerrit), to even trotting out another tall, blond, crew-cut nemesis for him to defeat(Cary Elwes this time instead of Val Kilmer). I guess it made sense for Simpson-Bruckheimer to not toy with a successful formula, but come on guys, talk about deja vu! With the current mania for NASCAR, it seems like this movie was just a little premature.
King of the Mountain (1981)
Why isn't this on DVD??
One of the first uncensored movies I saw, thanks to a young HBO. Add in an early 80's Harry Hamlin with a near afro, that dark haired chick from the "Warriors" and "Too Close For Comfort", a crackpot turn by Dennis Hopper, Mullholland Drive drag racing, some cheesy soundtrack music and you have a a beautiful time capsule. Harry is the top drag racer on Mullholland Drive, but Dennis Hopper, who used to be the top gun before taking too many drugs or something like that, is ready for a showdown. I think. I might remember better if this movie was at all available. Really gets at that moment where what we know as the 80's was just beginning, while the 70's was still hanging around in the ether. Tight Sergio Valente jeans, members only jackets, but hair still in that big 70's mode.
Stay Hungry (1976)
Makes me wanna grow out my hair and buy a plaid blazer
As I watched this film last night it occurred to me that it has a certain fun, Altmanesque element of found local color. The shady southern businessmen Jeff Bridges' character is involved with all talk in a hilarious retro jive, "I'm fine as wine!" and sport really sharp looking plaid blazers. Rafelson decides to throw in random things just for sheer fun; a car race, with 70's Monte Carlos shooting through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama and getting air like it's San Francisco, a whole crew of 70's bodybuilders running through the city streets and posing on top of buses. Arnold Schwarzeneggar puts in his only true serious acting turn, although I'm not sure how much it should be considered acting as he's playing his real self; philosophical and shrewd. Sally Field is hot in this movie, there's even a scene where she jumps out of bed in the nude, displaying a great ass. Jeff Bridges puts on his usual display of fine, unselfconscious screen acting. One of the nicest and most refreshing things about this movie is that it unfolds organically; we don't feel an overarching awareness of chugging plot structure like we do at today's movies.