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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

JER'S TURN: SUMMER FILMS OF 1985- A LOOK BACK

JER: As the Summer of 2012 forges on, the lack of great movies is upon us. Let’s face it, personally, nothing has compared to the summers of yesteryear. There was a time…not too long ago… when summer meant great movies. The topic has been discussed by us here at CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT on previous occasions, so there is no doubt that we are in agreement on that subject. Instead of feeling the sorrows and pains of today, I ask you to jump in my DeLorean and let’s set the time machine to the SUMMER OF 1985!

Whew! As we arrive, I see that we have a busy schedule of films to watch in a period of four glorious months. Here are just some of the more recommended titles I have selected, aong with their release month and date, to make your stay more pleasant…they are:

MAY
22- RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II= FIRST BLOOD was the first entry to the Rambo franchise that originally had him die at the end of the movie! If that would have happened, we would have never been truly exposed to the world of Sylvester Stallone and his ability to go shirtless and flex for the camera at any given moment! Rambo represented the struggle of the average man, he was a Vietnam vet who didn’t fit in the puzzle of society. He went up against things he felt were wrong and fought at whatever the cost would be. Shtick, action, explosions, guns and grunts…the best way to kick- off the summer season!

24- A VIEW TO A KILL= Roger Moore returns as Britain’s very own favorite spy: James Bond 007 in this film that also features both Grace Jones and Christopher Walken as villains! What is there not to like about the early Bond films: great exotic locales, beautiful women, a dashing gentleman of a hero, evil and corrupted villians and an opening theme song that always seemed to be better than the last! On that note, let’s not forget the really cool theme song provided by Duran Duran!

31- FLETCH= Chevy Chase hoped to inspire a character that would generate a series of sequels that would further tell the stories of his characterization of an L.A. reporter who loves to dig too deep for the dirt. Part comedy/ part mystery… the film would only generate one sequel: FLETCH LIVES…that series died rather quickly. Don't worry, Chevy...we love you in the VACATION series!
Here is the original 1985 trailer for Chevy Chase's FLETCH

JUNE
1- AKIRA KUROSAWA’S RAN= A refreshing change for any summer season was this Japanese entry from acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. Borrowing from the world of Shakespeare’s KING LEAR, the film was hailed by critics and would be considered the last epic film by Kurosawa. The film was a love- child directed with great passion and respect as it takes its time introducing us into the world of the "Great Lord" and his three sons...two of which will stop at nothing to claim their father's throne even before death! RAN represents many classic Japanese cultures and weaved it in with a tragic tale of greed, back- stabbing and betrayal told with breath- taking photography and a sharp screenplay.
Enter the world of Akira Kurosawa's RAN


7- THE GOONIES= Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Richard Donner (SUPERMAN, THE OMEN) the unexpected family hit would take us into a world of comedy, action and mystery with a mixed cast of Hollywood children and newbies. The story surrounds itself with the classic telling of kids looking for adventure with buried treasures, perils and unsuspecting bravery! The film boasts some of the most elaborate sets and special effects that can only be equaled by the high- level of fun that can be packed into this entertaining gem!

14- PRIZZI’S HONOR= Director John Houston (AFRICAN QUEEN) brought forth a masterful hit-man story blending humor, romance and drama. Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner play a hit-man and hit-woman who cross paths and fall in love…not realizing that each have been hired to kill the other!
Director John Houston's Mob comedy/mafia mash-up: PRIZZI'S HONOR

21- COCOON= Director Ron Howard (BACKDRAFT, SPLASH) scored big points with this bittersweet tale of a group of elders and the discovery of their “Fountain of Youth” without knowing that visitors from another world may be responsible. Howard brought a wonderful cast of classic actors together including Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Maureen Stapleton and included a cast of contemporary actors like Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy and Raquel Welsh’s daughter, Tahnee Welsh. The film had a sense of innocence, a touch of dramaic woe and good- fun that hadn’t been experienced since E.T.: THE EXTRA- TERRESTRIAL.

28- ST. ELMO’S FIRE/ PALE RIDER=
  • ST. ELMO’S FIRE director Joel Schumacher would only be a couple of years away from presenting THE LOST BOYS, but his “brat- pack” ensemble cast including Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy and Judd Nelsen are brought forth into the college world of Jamestown in Washington, D.C. The struggles of growing up and life after college are analyzed within the circle of friends in a variety of different aspects and points- of- views. The film was supported by a wonderful soundtrack and great photography: a signature calling card that Schumacher would further use in his future projects including FLATLINERS, FALLING DOWN, BATMAN FOREVER and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
    Composer David Foster's "LoveTheme" for ST. ELMO'S FIRE
  • PALE RIDER marks Clint Eastwood’s return to the western since 1976’s THE OUTLAW JOSET WALES (or 1980’s BRONCO BILLY, which isn’t a western, but if you want to split hairs…) Taking dual roles as both director and actor, Eastwood’s unique quality of presenting grit in both the screen’s presentation and acting, has been the trademark of what is to be expected. Although different characters, Eastwood usually plays a loner of little words spoken with a six- shooter that definetly makes up for the lack of words gun does all the talking!
JULY
3- BACK TO THE FUTURE= What is there not to be said about this film? Directed by Robert Zemeckis (FORREST GUMP, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?) and Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg, the story of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), a time machine built out of a DeLorean and 1955 are all the key ingredients needed to provide a contemporary summer classic! The storyline is summed up in this simple question: ‘What if you could go back in time and meet your parents while they were in high school?’ The film inspired two sequels that continued the saga.

10- SILVERADO/ MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME= A very different choice of films to select from on this date back in 1985.
  • SILVERADO- In the tradition of early Sergio Leone films (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) and Clint Eastwood classics, director Lawrence Kasdan (THE BIG CHILL, BODY HEAT) wanted to make a true western world that had everything in it: drama, humor, tragedy, villains, revenge and romance. With an all- star cast that included: Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn, Roseanna Arquette, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Costner, John Cleese and Linda Hunt, the screenplay is brought to life in full robust with great cinematography to compliment the Old West.
    The exciting original 1985 trailer for SILVERADO

 
  • MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME was a disappointing third chapter in the telling of “Mad” Max's (Mel Gibson) continuing story, moreover, an unsatisfying continuation picking up from its predecessor: THE ROAD WARRIOR (aka: MAD MAX 2). In a post- apocalyptic world, Max finds himself in a self contained outpost in which he has to battle his way out of in order to survive. Tina Turner plays Auntie Entity, the proprietor of Thunderdome, who holds Max’s fate in her hands. 
12- EXPLORERS= Taking a page from friend Steven Spielberg, director Joe Dante (GREMLINS) decided to tell a heartwarming coming- of- age tale involving friends, first- crushes, bullies and…aliens??? Well, there had to be twist somewhere! The film opened the doors for a group of talented youths including first- timers Ethan Hawke (BEFORE SUNRISE) and River Phoenix (STAND BY ME) as two- thirds of a trio of friends who 'invent' a portable device that transports them into space to connect with a couple of pop- cultured- influenced aliens! Whether on Earth or in space, one message is clear: kids are kids!
The original teaser trailer produced for Joe Dante's EXPLORERS

19- DAY OF THE DEAD= The third installment in the “DEAD” series by writer/ director George A. Romero, the film continues the deteriorating world that has been over- populated by the flesh- eaters and offers advanced techniques in Special Effects make- up from mastermind Tom Savini (FRIDAY THE 13th) and plenty of  lifeless zombies to please the seekers of the un-dead. Romero was obviously way ahead of his time (zombie apocalypse, anyone???)

26- KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN/ EUROPEAN VACATION=

KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN offered escapism in the form of charm and fantasy in a summer filled with actions, comedies and a couple of horror films. William Hurt and Raul Julia play cell mates in a South American prison. Hurt’s character creates a world of romantic getaway as he weaves a tale to take their minds off of the imprisonment they face. As the story unfolds, a unique friendship develops with a mutual respect they didn’t have of each other in the beginning.

EUROPEAN VACATION is the sequel to 1983’s VACATION starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as the loveable Griswolds. The summer vacation with an itinerary- filled trip through Europe proved to be the set- up for laughs after winning the trip on a game show! Chase is the delight to watch as dad Clark with pratfalls, facial expressions and comedic timing abound.

AUGUST
2- FRIGHT NIGHT/ WEIRD SCIENCE= Here’s a doosey of a double bill on the same opening weekend!

FRIGHT NIGHT was written and directed by Tom Holland (CHILD’S PLAY) about a teenage boy who believes that his newly moved- in neighbor is a vampire! Holland has always been able to use his eye for cinematography and storytelling to conjure up both fear and fun.
  • WEIRD SCIENCE may not be as well recognized as writer/ director John Hughes’ SIXTEEN CANDLES or the December of 1985’s THE BREAKFAST CLUB, but the movie does hold its own as the one wish any teenage boy would want granted: to build a smoking hot girl!
     Theme song performed by Oingo Boingo (Danny Elfman)
9- PEE- WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE= An unsuspected audience was subjected to a number of new introductions: Paul Reubens' creation of the 'man- child' character originally created during his stand- up comedy days on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, director Tim Burton's feature- length debut and the carnival- like soundtrack from Oingo Boingo's frontman Mr. Danny Elfman! The film was prankish, immature, comical and innocent genius all rolled into one fun flick!

If you want to adjust the time machine, you’ll find that other films that opened throughout the rest of 1985 included:

THE BREAKFAST CLUB, MASK, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, LEGEND, A CHORUS LINE, OUT OF AFRICA, AGNES OF GOD, THE COLOR PURPLE, BRAZIL, LADYHAWKE, WITNESS, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. and ROCKY IV.

JOHNNY CHAZZ: In all fairness, I do hand it to Jer this week for choosing a year when Summer films could actually be classified as somewhat memorable. The films that we are not discussing in detail must also be mentioned: "The Color Purple"; "Out of Africa"; "Witness" and "The Breakfast Club" were all quite good for the time. So, looking at the list of films that Jer highlighted in this week’s blog, I shall travel back in my own DeLorean to examine what was on screen during the summer heat over 25 years ago. Let’s dive in –

COCOON- At the time, it was simply fantastic. Well, it was a fantastic “movie” that is. Did you know anybody that did not enjoy this flick immensely? The cast was fun and the storyline was completely uplifting. Still, some of the characters do become a bit annoying – ever more now than they were in 1985. In all, it was a simple story with a lively cast that delivered a heartfelt message about growing old. Box office price: $6.00.
The original 1985 trailer for Ron Howard's COCOON

BACK TO THE FUTURE- Memorable and certainly a timepiece for the era. Still, the film seems to receive much too much hype and upon re-visiting the film recently it is actually somewhat plain and dull to be real honest. Box office price: $4.00.

KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN- There is little doubt that the book by Manuel Puig is three times better than the film. The screenplay is simply outstanding and a large part of that is credited to such strong and thoughtful dialogue in the text. You see, this is precisely what films today lack…..great writing that comes from a novel or even an original screenplay. This definitely was categorized as an independent film in its own right and William Hurt’s performance is nothing short of breathtaking. The soundtrack is also outstanding to the film and the lighting is another character all together. Let’s also not forget the noteworthy set design as well as the captivating cinematography within stark interiors. Box office price: $12.00.
The sweeping trailer to KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN

RAN- A captivating film that everyone should not only view on the big screen, but everyone should have this in their DVD / Blu-Ray collection as well. So pleased you brought this film to the fore-front Jer. Now, looking back on Kurosawa’s work, this is nowhere near in the ballpark of his films that were made 20+ years earlier (“Ikiru”, “Seven Samurai”, “Rashomon” and “The Bad Sleep Well”), but “Ran” does have enough happening to make the Criterion Collection – and that really says something. The performances are strong, the sets are fitting and the score is perfect for the battle scenes as it weaves both traditional Japanese and Western sounds together to form the right emotion. Similar to some of the themes in other films / movies we’re discussing this week (“Back to the Future”, “Cocoon”, etc.), this film speaks about the fear of growing old. The cinematography and special effects are tremendous and the film moves and flows right through without really missing a beat. I recommend this one. Box office price: $11.00.

MAD MAX BEYOND........- Could not stand the film when it was released and it simply worsens over time. Tina Turner and Mel Gibson? Never. Box office price: $ Free Entry $

WEIRD SCIENCE- I am going to receive some feedback here I am sure of it, but here it goes. I did not care for this movie when I saw it in the theaters the summer I turned 15. Even the title track was nowhere near the caliber of songs being released by Oingo Boingo at the time. We discussed John Hughes in the past and I continue to say that most (not all) of his films were forgetful, poorly written and just plain dull. What was the point of “Weird Science” afterall? Two horny kids and some chick running around the screen inside of a plot that is not only far- fetched, but just plain juvenile. It is a simple and mindless teeny-bopper film from the 1980’s and it fits with just about everything else from that decade in respect to film. Box office price: $0.75

THE GOONIES- Annoying kids running all over the screen trying to find a lost treasure…..and on and on and on. This may well have been not only one of the most overrated movies of all time, but quite possibly one of the most mindless. Box office price: $0.01 - got a penny anyone?

EUROPEAN VACATION- Without a doubt, this was the best of the series in my opinion. Still, let’s not go overboard about the “Vacation” films, but we will use this one comparatively speaking as it will certainly come out ahead that way as “Vegas Vacation” was the ultimate trash in respect. The appearance of Eric Idle (Monty Python) was a real bonus in the movie and who could forget the family’s trip through Germany? Oh, and the Griswolds visit to Stonehenge as they completely dismantle it in a matter of seconds…a regular riot! I must say that this movie is one of my guilty pleasures on screen, and not just from 1985, but encompassing all movies. For laughs, this one really works. Box office price: $7.00
The one and only Chevy Chase in EUROPEAN VACATION

RAMBO II – Johnny Chazz will pass here…..Box office price: $0.50

FRIGHT NIGHT – Some merits here and probably worth re-visiting again on Netflix. I am pretty “vampired-out”, but let’s be fair to the time and place when this was released. Additionally, the cast is pretty dismal. Box office price: $2.00

JER: Let it be known to our readers that Johnny Chazz has now adopted the use of his "Box- Office Price" to help illustrate his value of the film in question... I am both surprised and taken back from some of your comments. Some choices I was sure you were going to blast right out of the water were ones you gave acceptance to…others couldn’t stand a chance in the wrath that is JC’s review!

I am pleased to announce that Kurosawa’s RAN is, indeed, in my DVD collection….but I do have it marked on my “Blu- Ray Wish List” for future purchase.

If anything, we can both agree on the awful taste left behind from MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME… director George Miller (WITCHES OF EASTWICK) should have stopped at the awesome entry that was THE ROAD WARRIOR.

Let me get this straight…you were 15 and you did not like WEIRD SCIENCE and question the story of two horny boys who create a beautiful woman??? I think you might have been created from a stack of Wall Street Journals and a stick of chewing gum, Mr. Johnny Chazz! As per your words and I quote, “What was the point of “Weird Science” afterall?” … um, how about that we were all horny teens looking for a little risqué fun from a PG-13 film that we could watch without mom tagging along?

I can admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of THE GOONIES the very first time I saw it back in ’85…but I do remember growing into it once it came out on VHS. I know I went in with high expectations and I felt it didn’t deliver. I can now say that I thoroughly enjoy watching it at least once in a great while and find it entertaining and fun!

Your review of EUROPEAN VACATION certainly caught me by surprise! A movie that would have been ripped to shreds is deemed by you as being a “guilty pleasure’??? Who are you and what have you done to Johnny Chazz???

This topic was done out of good fun and a summer filled with great memories and looked upon with high anticipation as week after week would pass, only awaiting what would come out next!

SO, the subject gets thrown back to you, readers... what has been your best overall Summer film.... past or present? What memories are stirred from the thoughts of seeing it in theaters? How old were you? Were you around during the Summer of 1985 and what did you think of our list? We always look forward to your comments and thoughts and we will always reply back so check back with us!

CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT will be taking a couple of weeks off for the Holidays, but make sure you check back with us on WEDNESDAY JULY 11th, 2012 for JOHNNY CHAZZ' newest movie/ film topic!!!  Enjoy!!!

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

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