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Demolition Man

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic made quite a few people remember the many outbreak films Hollywood has made.  It made me remember “Demolition Man”.

Of course, it wasn’t for the main plot point of the movie – a violent cop and a violent criminal are cryogenically frozen, and are brought back centuries in the future to discover the world is much different.

Police Academy

When a comedy has 6 sequels, each of which got progressively worse until the final in the series hardly even made it onto a theater screen, it’s hard to judge the first one fairly, especially since it never would’ve happened without the classic film “The Right Stuff”.

Heaven Help Us

Every once in a while, you find a film from youth that is full of great scenes with great actors who most people didn’t know at the time, but today has the makings of a classic.

Dead Man Don't Wear Plaid

In 1982, I was a big fan of movies I couldn’t possibly have seen from the 30s and 40s.  We actually had a VHS VCR in the house, but the small video store near my house had very few movies from that era.  But I read about them in tons of books at the library.  

When Harry Met Sally...

I became a fan of rom-coms because of “When Harry Met Sally.”  For once, the guy was a smart alec who didn’t look like a Ken doll.  One of those “He could be me” situations.

And Meg Ryan was everybody’s high-maintenance but sweet girl next door.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

I can’t tell you how many times I saw “The Incredible Shrinking Man” on television as a kid, but it was a lot.  This film is emblazoned on my childhood.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

How the hell did this cost $65 million?

That’s almost as much as it cost to make “The Rock” the same year, and that got us Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris, and it got the studio more than twice that at the box office.

But darn it, I love “The Long Kiss Goodnight”.

Witness

There’s hardly any part of “Witness” I don’t love.  In fact, I wonder how a film like this even got green-lit.  Much of the supporting cast and the two writers were perennial television workers, the director had never directed an American film, and films about the Amish weren’t known to be blockbusters.

Class of 1984

I’ll admit it.  Many of the films I enjoyed as a child were supremely influenced by a PBS show called “Sneak Previews” with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who left the show in 1982 and went to network syndication with “At the Movies”.  “Sneak Previews” continued without them and never really clicked with me.  Siskel and Ebert were it. 

Malice

The early 1990s were a good time to do husband and wife thrillers, and “Malice” is just about the best. Coming of his hit play-turned-movie “A Few Good Men”, Aaron Sorkin pens this story of intrigue, after which he veered off into politics with “The American President”, “The West Wing” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”


 “Another Take on Film” -  Movies you may have seen before that are worth “another take” – watch them again and maybe notice some things differently the second time around.  I’ll be continuously adding reviews of films from my personal library of thousands and thousands of titles and sharing what I think is special about each one.  Every good film deserves another take.


Moonstruck

This is one of those films that you’d think would have a pretty select audience.  I grew up with and around Italians in Philadelphia where every discussion was at a dinner table, everything was debated at a higher decibel level than average, and someone was making some kind of gravy (now known as sauce) or an egg fried in the middle of a slice of Italian bread.

American Graffiti

There would be no “Star Wars” without “American Graffiti”.  The behind-the-scenes stories about what George Lucas did to get “American Graffiti” made is a plot within itself and a deeper storyline than the movie had.

Hero At Large

Ever see a movie that looks, feels, and sounds like a TV show even though you’re sitting in the theater?

That’s Hero at Large.  A director who, despite directing “Lords of Flatbush” which launched Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler and Perry King, spent most of his career in television, and a writer who wrote mostly for television and a cast of TV familiar faces led by “Three’s Company” star John Ritter make this film, and it somehow worked.

Christine

I never understood why this film never really found an audience.  It’s classic Stephen King directed by classic John Carpenter.  King’s narrative of the teen nerd no one likes supernaturally striking back against his bullies is straight out of “Carrie.”  John Carpenter’s style of pure evil without rhyme or reason is straight out of “Halloween.” 

Somehow, it didn’t mix.  Slasher films made Carrie and Halloween tame by 1983, and for an R-rated horror movie, this isn’t very extreme.

Fright Night

This is one of those stories where a studio head says “What the heck.  Let’s make a movie.”

Scriptwriter Tom Holland was a successful writer and wanted to direct his next script, a horror film.  Horror was in during the 80s, but vampire films were in short supply (this was two years before “The Lost Boys”, and vampires were the topic of this script.

Steel Magnolias

Some films are meant to be read.  “Steel Magnolias” is one of those films where the dialogue is the lifeblood of the films.  The plot isn’t really interesting and doesn’t go many places.  The spine of the story is this group of close-knit friends and the drama of the good times and bad that bind them.

The drama involves a diabetic daughter and her health issues which drive the story forward.  It’s a true story written by her brother and became a hit broadway play and two film versions.

My Bodyguard

“My Bodyguard” had a first-time director and a cast of unknowns, made $22 million from a $3 million budget, and basically launched the careers of Matt Dillion, Joan Cusack and others.  Ok, Dillion was in Little Darlings that year, too, but this is the showy role that critics saw.  Chris Makepeace, the nerd from “Meatballs” plays the nerd here, too.  Martin Mull and Ruth Gordon add their schtick, but Makepeace and Dillon really make this film shine.

Parenthood

Ron Howard was best known as a television actor in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days” but his resume as a director is second to no one.  In 2018, he was called in to helm the Star Wars movie “Solo.”  He directed the “Da Vinci Code” trilogy along with some other favorites of mine:  “Apollo 13”, “Far and Away”, “Ransom”, “Frost/Nixon” and “A Beautiful Mind”.

My favorite will probably always be “Parenthood.”

Rob Roy

“Braveheart” got the attention but “Rob Roy” deserved more.

I don’t think there is a better swashbuckler with smarter, dry and wittier dialogue than Rob Roy.  Oddly, the best dialogue is with the supporting cast.