De Palma is one of those filmmakers that I don’t particularly like, but I can’t stop watching his films. I love to gripe about him, and yet I keep coming back for more. I think that’s part me wanting to know what the hell everyone else sees in his films and part the fact that they are pretty intriguing on some level. Mostly stylistically. I won’t argue that DePalma is a downright fantastic visual filmmaker, but it’s pretty rare that the story he’s telling lives up to the visuals. In the case of Blow Out, I find parts of the story just plain sloppy and that makes it hard to take the suspense seriously through the finish.
I first saw Blow Out years ago on DVD and remember being none too impressed with the very blatant mashup of Antonioni’s Blowup and Coppola’s The Conversation, albeit with a bit of a giallo twist. But when I saw the Denver Film Center was screening a 35mm print for a DePalma series I jumped at the chance to see in on the big screen. My mind had been changed before by the theatrical experience, maybe here was my chance to see what’s so great about DePalma. While I may not be a believer just yet, I did come out with a bit more of an appreciation for what may very well be De Palma’s best film. It’s not my favorite mind you, that will always be The Untouchables, but from a technical perspective I think Blow Out is the epitome of De Palma the auteur.
This weekend there were three films screening at the Starz Film Center we wanted to catch, and one wide release we’d been meaning to see. Sadly, only the film I had seen before was really worth the trouble.
Hot Tub Time Machine
About as mediocre as you’d expect, Hot Tub Time Machine relies too much on low brow humor and shouting, leaving the genuinely funny moments few and far between. I think a dose of Better Off Dead is required to get the bad taste out of my mouth.
The Secret of Kells
I was really torn here. On the one hand you have a gorgeously animated and scored film, but on the other you have a completely uninteresting story. Makes it hard to care about anything.
Night of the Comet
I think this is a fun ’80s zombie romp. My husband thought otherwise. Boo.
Walt & El Grupo
Yet another potentially awesome film that ended up being totally boring. I’m fascinated by both golden age Disney and World War II, but the film has too many family members I don’t care about reading letters. Meh. Of course, now I’m all the more excited for Waking Sleeping Beauty this coming weekend.
Working Girl (1988)
Directed by Mike Nichols
For breakfast: Blueberry Muffins
Working Girl is one of those films I can watch time and time again. It’s a classic underdog story as only the ’80s can tell it — with big hair, bigger eyeshadow, and Carly Simon rockin’ one of the best movie themes of the decade with “Let the River Run”. You know that song is awesome, admit it.
Made during Hollywood’s obsession with Wall Street and corporate culture the film sets itself apart from the rest because of its female perspective and its lovely sense of humor. This may be my favorite non-Alien performance from Sigourney Weaver. She is deliciously bitchy and has some of the best lines in the film. Harrison Ford is hot as ever and Melanie Griffith, well, just kind of does her thing. Oh sure, it might be just a tad candy-coated, but it’s got heart. It’s one of those feel-good films that just puts a smile on my face start to finish, and that’s why I keep coming back to it.
“Welcome to Fright Night! For real.”
What do you get when you cross Rear Window, vampires, and the ’80s? Only one of the most fun horror films of the decade! Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is your average teenager whose biggest problems are pop quizzes and getting to 2nd base; but when a mysterious man with strange habits moves in next door, his world becomes slightly more complicated. Mr. Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) is charming, seductive, and he has a thing for coffins. As Charley’s peeping reveals his neighbor’s true nature he has to fight to protect his friends and family as well as himself, and of course nobody believes him. He even enlists the help of local, vampire slaying celebrity Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell), who only plays along to disprove Charley’s allegations…that is until he realizes that Dandrige is in fact a vampire. Together they fumble their way through one sticky situation after another as they try to rescue Charley’s girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) from an eternity with the undead.
It’s all here, from the teen angst to the gratuitous nudity to the ’80s-tastic soundtrack featuring Devo and the J. Geils Band. But nostalgia aside, what I love most about the film is that it’s self-aware and has a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. I’d say it’s similar to something like Shaun of the Dead, where it holds up as a genre film and adheres to the conventions, but also successfully parodies that genre. The humor works mostly due to Chris Sarandon’s performance as a sexually ambiguous, yet deliciously villainous vampire. He torments this poor teenager for the fun of it, and the viewer has fun right along with him. After all, what good is it being a vampire if you’re not going to be stereotypically sexy and witty about it?
I want to see this movie.