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In the Custody of Strangers (1982)
This tale of a juvenile's nightmare voyage through delinquency and the harsh penal system is a well acted and at times moving story.
Emilio Estevez as the angry young man Danny is excellent, in an early role which showed his promise and acting ability. He is indeed his father's son. His story is set against a backdrop of hopelessness and unemployment and his father's emasculation as the wage earner and hunter gatherer. Martin Sheen's character, Frank, is seeking employment having been laid off as foreman in the factory he's spent his adult career in. His frustration at having to almost beg for work, and fear of welfare, whilst his wife earns a wage and keeps the house is palpable and contributes to the rocky relationship with his volatile son. In these early scenes we see Danny cares for his family greatly, that he respects his father but feels embarassed for him.
When Danny drunkenly wrecks a car his Frank lets him stew in the cells for a night to teach him a lesson. After he beats a dirty old lech in self defense he is remanded in the youth cells and is tragically sucked into the system, a system which fails him. His character's brutalisation and growing desperation are well conveyed by Emilio and are thrown into contrast later on when we see his father's and the family's fortunes improving with Frank getting a good new job out of state.
When Danny is finally released we see a different young man. The closing scenes are poignant as Danny silently, hauntingly, watches his father (offscreen) laugh and play with his younger children. We suspect young Danny longs for those innocent days of youth and unquestioning love. Carefree days. Simple days. Happy days.
Masters of the Universe (1987)
On your knees proud warrior
An enjoyable romp of a movie, aimed at kids of all ages and enjoyed by many. My memories of the film as a child are dim, unlike many of my contemporaries who fondly remember Masters of the Universe. So I revisited and whilst now the effects are ropey, the dialogue a little limited and the plot very 80s, the cosmic key doubling as a "cool" synthesiser, it does have a certain nieve charm.
Dolph is muscled up, baby oiled up and stoic. He doesn't seem to have a lot to say which may not be such a bad thing. Langella is a delight and very much the focus of the movie playing the rather camp Skeletor with great gusto. He delivers lines like 'on your knees proud warrior' and 'yes you will, yes you will or I shall wreak terrible harm upon you' (or words to that effect)with verve. As He-man points out, he doesnt want the woman (the sorceress/hag) he wants his he-man and its always been between them. And perhaps it always will? Make of that little nugget of information what you will. I know my interpretation added depth and perhaps hidden dimensions to the struggle for power between skeletor and his bulky nemesis.
The leprechaun, gwimmer, gwildor something gwimmy anyway, is interesting too, nice scene between him and the cow.
Cast your cynicism and modern sensibilities aside, rest your weary brain and any thought processes, and enjoy this tale through the eyes of a child. You may just surprise yourself.
Men at Work (1990)
A very funny film, which most people who saw it when it first hit video stores will agree. Watching it years later it holds up very well indeed, Emilio and Charlie as Carl and James, are clearly having great fun working together and this chemistry heightens the comedy. Our 2 favourite binmen (garbage men)go about their job with a relaxed attitude to working and ultimately pursue their dreams of running a surf shop. A personal favourite moment is when they answer trivial pursuit questions with comedy responses before answering correctly, proving both wit and intelligence. After apparently accidently executing a women hitting politician all hell breaks loose and the hilarity ensues.
The montage scenes are great, flying dustbin lids etc, and the other characters are funny, comedy mafia goons, rival binmen, a shouty boss, a meek pizza delivery boy and the obligatory vietnam vet providing laughs as their loco supervisor. They don't make montage scenes like they used. The dream of a sequel still lives on, if you will it it is no dream.