Sunday, February 10, 2013


Ah, love…cannot live without it and it makes us not think straight when we have it! If it were as simple as the movies would have it, then we’d fall in love with that man that owns his family business and can jet- set the live long day away or she would be the pretty maid or struggling working girl that wants to make a name for herself while coincidentally finding love along the way. They meet, they kiss, the music swells and they live happily ever after.

The VALENTINE'S DAY option for 2013???
Did the rock group “The J. Geils’ Band” have it right when they simply stated on one of their hit songs that “Love Stinks?” Oh, come on…we are drawing near Valentine’s Day and love should be in the air. What do the studios have lined- up for the lovers out there? Nothing! I haven’t seen any trailers for anything that spells- out L O V E! Well, now, I take that back…there is one called SAFE HAVEN starring Josh Duhamel (TRANSFORMERS) and former “Dancing With The Stars” darling Julianne Hough (FOOTLOOSE) about a woman with a secret past that ends up in a small town to start anew, while her troubled male past comes back to reclaim what he feels is his… can we say SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY rip- off???  That’s OK; no one under 25 will know the difference! Aside from that little bon- bon of a treat, we are also treated to the romantic A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (aka DIE HARD 6, if you’re counting), the swooning BEAUTIFUL CREATURES about witches and black magic and the animated love letter ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH…ah, yes, love is definitely wafting in the atmosphere!

Let’s face it, love stories have taken- up its own rules to follow and they have all pretty much looked the same since. The typical lead male is either Channing Tatum, Matthew Mcconaughey or even Gerard Butler and the lonely ladies are Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock or Kate Hudson. Well, I decided to put a spin on the talk and bring up the love stories that DO NOT follow the rulebook as such. As I researched and talked it over with my “expert” on such topics, I started to see that some movies…you’ll pardon the pun…don’t receive the “love” they deserve. Here, now, are a few fractured love stories to put a twist on the upcoming Valentine’s Day or any day you need to feel the “love” (OK, that’s enough of that!)

SOMETHING WILD (1986) - This warped little love tale, directed by Jonathan Demme (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) stars Melanie Griffith (BODY DOUBLE) as the free- spirited “Lulu” who runs into the conservative and boring businessman Charlie Driggs (Jeff Daniels) and turns his world upside down when a ride back to the office turns into a “kidnapping” out of town for an adventure to change old Charlie’s ways. Along the way, the couple runs into Lulu’s ex- husband, the recently paroled and violent Ray (Ray Liotta)… and that’s when the adventure really takes place!
Demme has always presented a certain style that veers to the “off- side” when it comes to character development and story telling. The pairing of Lulu and Charlie creates a fun and intriguing tryst as we find that opposites do attract with conflicting personalities. A second ‘fractured’ love line brings Lulu’s ex into the picture who will stop at nothing to get her back. 

WILD THINGS (1998) – Accusations fly high as a South Florida high school councilor (Matt Dillon) is brought up on charges of rape from a snobby rich girl (Denise Richards) and her trashy classmate (Neve Campbell). A detective (Kevin Bacon) suspects a conspiracy is in the works and goes on the case to unravel the real story.
Wrapping itself within the swampy marshes of South Florida and creating a steamy setting, the film definitely knows how to turn up the heat and turn it up as often as possible. The audience is led to believe that some kind of attraction (or lust) is helping keep this game fully amped. The story oozes with passion, greed and betrayal as the main characters find themselves in the oddest of couplings. The film carries a classic noir setting that reminds us of those glossy, yet campy, movies that informs the audience of the cliche roles they play throughout the story telling.

EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY (1988) – Another bright and shiny sexy comedy romp produced in the 80’s. Somewhere, on the other end of the Hollywood sign, a trio of furry aliens accidentally crash- lands into a young woman’s (Geena Davis) pool. The alien leader (Jeff Goldblum) immediately finds an attraction to the Earth woman and desperately tries to help her see the error of her ways by dumping her egotistical boyfriend and hooking- up with him instead! Can Valerie see past the alien and actually find love beyond the stars?
The cult flick is lovingly directed by former music video director Julien Temple (has worked with Michael and Janet Jackson, Madonna and David Bowie) and Temple’s eye for slick video- making is evident throughout the film’s production. Davis and Goldblum were only dating at the time of the production but followed it with a marriage (and quickly followed that with a divorce), but the romance factor is cute and cuddly and never gets overly sappy! Aside from the fact that some great up- and- coming comic actors also made their debut (Julie Brown, Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey) and great bouncy musical numbers are sprinkled along to add- on to the entertainment! 

WHAT’S UP, DOC?(1972) – Director Peter Bogdanovich’s (PAPER MOON, NASHVILLE)  comedy- romantic romp through the streets of San Francisco is a stand- out treat in any sense of the word. The confusion amongst four identical plaid overnight bags brings the union of the overly- smart Howard Bannister (Ryan O’Neil) and a care-free young woman named Judy (Barbra Streisand). Judy finds Howard interesting and toys with his smarts and finds a slightly- off romantic connection that is irresistible. With the mix- up of the bags come stolen jewels and shady characters who just want the right bags returned to their rightful owners. Screwball, zany and a little sexy love make this a highly entertaining film.
O’Neil and Streisand are a perfect match as Howard is more the deadpan, easily distracted character while Judy is the upfront extrovert that wants to help Howard see how exciting life is… all by a chance meeting! Bogdanovich shines as both director and co- writer of this wacky film and presents a wonderful supporting cast that included Madeline Kahn (BLAZING SADDLES) and Kenneth Mars (YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN).

THE CRUSH (1993) – OK, so we’ve seen the story told before (ummm, LOLITA, anyone?) but there is a twist! Instead of the older man crushing on the innocent young teen… the tables are turned as the teen becomes the temptress on the unsuspected older man! Who couldn’t help but fall for the doe- eyed debut of Alicia Silverstone as the 14- year old Adrienne presenting a mad- crush on an unsuspecting 28- year old Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes- THE PRINCESS BRIDE) who was just looking to move into her family’s guest house? After Nick’s refusal to accept Adrienne’s sexual advances, he finds himself in a world of sabotage and danger with no safety to be found around the family’s property or even outside of his home.
Love will make you do crazy things at times, but obsessive and compulsive behavior becomes a toxic mix as this teenage drama presents a sexy villain in Alicia Silverstone! The film represents a dangerous kind of love: one- sided and near obsessive and played with a nice mixture of both suspense and believability by Elwes and Silverstone.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) - In the more saddening of love- torn stories, the couple does not happen and the audience is left pining and wishing for a happier ending. However, what can be said about a skeletal dead being and a mad scientist’s creation finding love in a world of Halloween? The stop- motion animation film uses the storyline of love as a secondary plot with the focus remaining on how the Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, becomes bored with the annual celebration of Halloween and curiously discovering Christmas as the new diversion he’d been after! Sally, the sewn and stuffed creation of Dr. Fenklestein, understands that there is a whole other world to be discovered other than the one she is kept in within the confines of her laboratories home. Jack and Sally quickly discover their similarities for another life than the one handed to them and find a love between them through their journeys of rediscovery.
Produced by Tim Burton, NIGHTMARE is a contemporary cult classic in every sense of the word.  The film and its characters have exploded in popularity over the years with a strong marketing push on anything displaying the now iconic resemblances! Aside from the undead characters, the film’s major achievement is the memorable music and lyrics by composer Danny Elfman (who also voices all of Jack’s singing), which helps add another layer of grim and darkness to the underworld setting of the plot.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986) – The popular musical pays tribute to the sci- fi B- films of the 1950’s as the story is spot- on with the era’s definitions of nerds, babes and the power of the doo- wop sound! Nerdy florist Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) works within the lower side of town at the Skid Row Florist Shop. Blond bouffant cutie Audrey (Ellen Greene) reports to work with visible bruises from her abusive Dentist boyfriend (Steve Martin) and Seymour secretly wishes to take her away to a better life. A mysterious flower pod is discovered and suddenly Seymour begins to grow an unusual Venus flytrap- like plant that becomes the talk of skid row turning the little flower shop into a bustling overnight success! But, with fame comes a price as Seymour finds that the plant not only grows and survives from its victim’s blood, but the fact that it must be human! Do Audrey and Seymour have enough baddies in their lives that deserve to be served as the next meal to the floral sensation they dub as “Audrey II?”
Directed by ‘muppeteer’ Frank Oz (DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS), a marvelous cast including Vincent Gardenia (MOONSTRUCK), James Belushi (K-9), John Candy (UNCLE BUCK) and Bill Murray (GHOSTBUSTERS) flesh- out the characters originally presented as an off- Broadway show composed and written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, before the duo collaborated for such Disney classics as THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN. It literally is a film that presents the love- triangle of man- loves- woman, woman- loves- man and plant- loves- man!

DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988) – A tasty and very twisted storyline that plays with a variety of different emotions including desire, lust and even love. The question proposed is: can a person be subjected into a drawn- in and carefully calculated act of love just for the fun of it? Aristocrats Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Viconte Sebastien de Valmont (John Malkovich) sit around their posh surroundings in 1760 France and plot and propose challenges to the other as to whom they should seduce… just for the sport of it. However, can the act of playing turn into real love as a true challenge presented in the innocent Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer) that creates a real ponder for Valmont.
Based on the successful Broadway play written by Christopher Hampton and directed by Stephen Frears (THE QUEEN), this Academy Award nominated picture presents a marvelous amount of talent including cast, production design, set design and costumes. The original plot was based on actual corresponding letters that details accounts of such deceit played out for simple pleasures! 

U TURN (1997) – A story of forbidden passion and the lengths that a man goes through to attempt to have what he cannot have. A drifter’s (Sean Penn) car breaks down somewhere in the desert and discovers a small town inhabited by unusual characters including a beautiful femme fatale (Jennifer Lopez) that temps the drifter into a world of deception as he discovers that her husband (Nick Nolte) decides to hire him to kill his wife…at the same time that she hires the drifter to kill her husband as well! Wait til you see what happens at the very end!!!
Not one of the more commonly recognized films by director Oliver Stone (JFK, PLATOON) but the film literally follows on the heals of the highly- experimental (and controversial) NATURAL BORN KILLERS... which explains the off- setting of the story and the similarity of strange characters and plot twists. Yet, those twisted ingredients still makes this film an enjoyable and intriguing love/ lust yarn! 

REVENGE (1990) – A fractured love fable in every sense of the word. Unsure exactly where his life is going now, Michael Cochran (Kevin Costner) has retired from a twelve year run with the Navy. With the intentions of taking a well- deserved holiday, he decides to go south of the Border to visit an old friend, Tiburon Mendez (Anthony Quinn) a very shrewd and powerful businessman… who might be a little corrupted as well. Upon arriving at Mendez’ compound, he discovers that “Tibey” has taken on a ‘trophy wife’ by marrying a much younger and very attractive woman, Miryea (Madeline Stowe). Playing with some serious fire, Cochran cannot help but see Miryea’s desires as she looks upon him… passion ensues and they are instantly discovered and brought forth to “Tibey.” Leaving them both for dead and taking his whore wife away to hidden away, Cochan finds that he barely survives the beatings left on him only to come back to find Miryea and give “Tibey” the rightful payback for his actions!
A real scorcher of a tale, indeed… directed with heated flair by famed director Tony Scott (TOP GUN), the film captures both the heat of the Mexican desert and the passion of the forbidden affairs of our main characters. A definite must- see! 

As some lessons to be learned, not all love stories have to be storybook- based and not all love stories end with that “happily ever after” wish. Fractured as they may be, their individual and original tales still leave an audience understanding that love comes in many shapes and sizes and that beauty can sometimes be ugly as well!

What fractured love story do you enjoy? What have others have to say about it? Does it really matter? The invitation to forward your comments and suggestions always await your pick- up with a sense of friendly greetings and welcoming arms extended out!

I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed this blog entry and that you keep coming back on a bi- weekly basis for more cinematic fun! Join me as we skip to FRIDAY MARCH 1st for the rundown of the Highlights from the Academy Awards! Thank you and take care!

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