Sunday, July 24, 2016


Scent of a Woman
Director: Martin Brest
Cast: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bradley Whitford
Released: December 23, 1992

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Unforgiven)
Best Director - Martin Brest (lost to Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven)
Best Actor - Al Pacino (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Bo Goldman (lost to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for Howards End)

This movie kind of reminded me of Rain Man, in that there's a younger guy aiding around an older guy who needs assistance and the younger guy learns a lesson from the older guy. But that's about where the similarities end.

This is a movie I thought I had seen before, but when I watched it, nothing about it was familiar to me so I must have been thinking of another movie (hmmm, maybe it was Rain Man? I know I've seen that!) Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) is a student at a prep school who takes a job of taking care of blind, retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino). Frank lives with his niece and her family. They are going out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend and the niece is looking for someone to watch her uncle because she would feel more comfortable if she knew he had someone around to help him. Even though he goes to a private school, Charlie does not come from a wealthy family and needs money to fly home to Oregon next Christmas. The gig pays $300 and seeing that he is the only one to show up for the interview, he gets the job.

When he first meets Frank, he keeps calling him "sir" even though Frank's niece told him not to call him that. It is clear to see that the Colonel is miserable and grouchy and likes to drink. Charlie is unsure about what he's gotten himself into, but since he needs the money, he goes ahead and takes the job.

The day before he is suppose to start his new temporary job, Charlie is at school with his friend George (played by a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and they see a couple guys they know setting up a prank which happens the next day. They fill up a huge balloon full of some kind of goop on a lamp post that hangs over the spot where the headmaster (James Rebhorn) usually parks. The goop goes all over the headmaster's fancy new car AND the headmaster. Charlie and George are both questioned, but neither say anything. They both agree not to tell their parents about it, then Charlie finds out that George has told his father because he's rich and he thinks he can get him out of it.

Before they leave for their trip, the niece tells Charlie to make sure her uncle doesn't have more than four drinks and to water them down. She gives him a piece of paper with the number where they can be reached if he needs to contact them for anything.  To Charlie's surprise, Frank ends up whisking him away on a first class flight trip to New York City. Charlie wants to know what's going on, but Frank says he will tell him "on a need-to-know-basis".  He gets them a room at the Waldorf-Astoria and takes them to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Charlie asks him how he's paying for all this and Frank tells him he saved up a lot of his disability checks and that that is all part of his "plan". Charlie inquires about this so-called plan and Frank simply tells him that his plan is to stay at a first class hotel, eat an agreeable meal, drink a nice glass of wine, see his big brother, and make love to a terrific woman. He concludes his plan by saying, "And after all that, I'm gonna lie down on my big, beautiful bed at the Waldorf and blow my brains out." Needless to say, Charlie is taken aback by this and says, "Excuse me, did you say you were going to kill yourself?" And Frank replies with, "No, I said I was gonna blow my brains out!" It was right at this moment where I told myself, He's not going to go through with it! And remember, I've never seen this movie before...I didn't even know this was a plot point! Okay, maybe it's not a surprise that he (uh....spoiler alert?) did NOT die!

They go to visit his brother for a surprise Thanksgiving visit and nobody is very happy that he's there as he's the black sheep of the family. I can see why the family isn't very fond of Frank. He harasses them and tells inappropriate stories around the dinner table (good thing there were no kids present!) and is very forward. Bradley Whitford plays his nephew and he especially despises his Uncle Frank. He tells Charlie the story of how Frank lost his eyesight: he was teaching hand to hand combat to another lieutenant and juggling grenades. He dropped one and the pin came out and blew up, thus blinding him. He was drunk at the time which explains the stupidity of this act.

The title of the movie comes from Frank being able to tell the type of perfume a woman is wearing. One of the more well-known scenes from the film is when he dances the tango with a young woman who he's trying to hook Charlie up with, but alas, the woman is married. Charlie is worried about Frank's depression so he takes him to a car dealership so they can test drive a Ferrari. The salesman tells them that he cannot let a 17-year-old kid behind the wheel of a $190,000 car with a blind companion. Even though Chris O'Donnell does look young (because he was young in this!), he does not look 17! I believe he was 22 when he filmed this. They should have just made his character a college student. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was also very young in this, but again, does NOT look like a teenager! Oh, well, this was the early '90s when 30 year olds were playing teenagers on Beverly Hills, 90210! Colonel Slade bribes the guy with $2,000 in cash and tell him he's the boy's father and he's a very safe driver and he lets them test drive it. As they're driving, Charlie notices Frank still looks depressed so he takes the car to an abandoned street part of the city (I didn't know there were even places like that in New York!) and lets him drive.

He's driving the car super fast and tells Charlie to let him know when to turn, but Charlie doesn't want him to and he tells him he's going to turn whether he helps him or not, so Charlie finally tells him and he skids the car on a turn. They are eventually caught by a police officer who gives them a warning...and he doesn't even notice that Frank is blind! That seems a bit stupid on the police officer's part! He's even holding out the registration to Frank and asks him if he wants it back.

The big emotional scene of the movie comes when they return to the hotel and Frank says he's going to take a nap and asks Charlie to go downstairs to get him some aspirin. He also wants him to go to a shop and get him some cigars. Charlie makes it down to the lobby and is about to leave, but has a sudden change of heart as we see him turn around and walk back on the elevator. Right after they had returned from test driving the Ferrari, Frank had a bit of a meltdown as he started walking across a busy street. Charlie kept asking him if he was okay and he insisted he was. When Charlie returns to the room, he sees the Colonel is in his uniform and has his gun out. Charlie tells him to give him the gun, but Frank points it at him and threatens him, telling him he's going to shoot him first, that his life's finished anyway since he's most likely to get expelled from school since George is going to tell on him for knowing about the prank. The Colonel begins a countdown from five and when he reaches one and points the gun at his head, Charlie lunges at him and grabs the gun. Frank tells him to "Get out of here!" and Charlie says he's staying right there and Frank, once again, threatens to kill him to which Charlie replies, "You want to do it? Do it!" Charlie tells him to get on with his life, but Frank tells him he has no life and that "I'm in the dark here!" Charlie tells him they should both give up and encourages him to pull the trigger. Oh, I get it. He was using reverse psychology, right? Frank tells him he (Charlie) doesn't want to die and Charlie in return tells Frank he doesn't want to die either. Frank says, "Give me one reason not to" and Charlie tells him, "I'll give you two: you can dance the tango and drive a Ferrari better than anyone I've ever seen." This reveal seems to amuse Frank and tells him, "You've never seen anyone do either." This seems to work because we hear the swell of triumphant music as Frank puts down the gun.

The last big scene of the movie is when Charlie goes back to school the following Monday and there whole school has assembled together to have a hearing about the prank. I feel like if you question a student in front of the ENTIRE school, of course they're not going to say anything! Colonel Slade, who had dropped Charlie off, comes back with his chauffeur and sits next to Charlie for support. To be honest, this entire subplot of the movie with the school prank disinterested me, but Charlie doesn't snitch on his friends and isn't expelled and everyone cheers...for some reason. I forgot to mention there was a nice moment when Colonel Slade has just dropped Charlie off (well, his chauffeur, obviously) and he touches Charlie's face as a way to remember him.

I would recommend this movie, but it is a little on the long side, so be prepared for that. I was about two hours into it and I checked to see how much time was left, and there was still about another hour! While Al Pacino is great as the blind Colonel Slade and deserving of an Oscar nomination, it does seem a bit crazy that he won over Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. It's been awhile since I've seen that movie, but that was more of the Oscar baity role. Well, that's probably why Denzel won for Training Day several years later. If you remember, a lot of people thought it was going to go to Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind, but I knew Denzel was going to win, because, if you remember, Crowe had just won the year before for Gladiator, plus wasn't this around the time he was being a huge prick?  I don't think anyone is angry Al Pacino has an Oscar, but he had some pretty stiff competition. But when have the Oscars ever made sense? Exactly.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Made Man

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Released: September 21, 1990

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Dances with Wolves)
Best Director - Martin Scorsese (lost to Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves)
Best Supporting Actor - Joe Pesci (won)
Best Supporting Actress - Lorraine Bracco (lost to Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi (lost to Michael Blake for Dances with Wolves)
Best Film Editing (lost to Dances with Wolves)

I need to watch Dances with Wolves in the near future to see if I agree with the Academy's decision of awarding that Best Picture over Goodfellas. I call BS on Kevin Costner winning Best Director over Marty Scorsese, though, ESPECIALLY since at this point in time Scorsese had never won an Oscar for directing (and wouldn't win one until 2007 for The Departed....personally, I liked
Goodfellas better, though I will admit it's been awhile since I've seen The Departed). If you remember, back in 2010, I posted several videos about a poll asking which was the biggest Best Picture upset in Oscar history. Dances with Wolves winning over Goodfellas was on the list, but it was not the one that won the poll and not the one I thought should have win....oh, trust me, there's a much bigger upset! You'll just have to go back and watch to find out, but if you know me, then you already know my answer!

Goodfellas is based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi called "Wiseguy" (damn, I can never remember if book titles are suppose to be italicized, underlined, or in parentheses which is why I just do all three!) Since there was already a show on TV called Wiseguy, Scorsese (smartly) changed the name. I think Goodfellas is a better title anyway. Wiseguy sounds like a comedy. "Ehhhh, Wiseguy!" The book and movie are based on the true story of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta), a man who got sucked into the mafia life at a very young age and would eventually turn on his mob family. The movie begins with him saying, in voiceover, "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." He tells the audience that as a young child and teen in the '50s, he was always awed by the power these Italian-American men in his Brooklyn community held. He was able to get part-time work from them by running errands for them and doing small jobs. This soon became a full-time job and he was part of their family.

His mentor is Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who Henry is in awe of the first time he meets him at a club because Jimmy is just tipping everyone one hundred dollars, like he has money to blow through like it's no big deal. He gives the doorman $100 just for opening the door and the bartender $100 for keeping the drinks coming. When he meets Henry he gives him a couple hundreds, just for the hell of it, really. Jimmy likes to sell things on the black market, such as cigarettes, booze, shrimp and lobster. He gives Henry two important pieces of advice: "Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut." Henry will NOT abide by these rules later on in the movie!

He meets Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) a very volatile man which makes him extremely scary and dangerous. One of the most well-known scenes in the movie is when Tommy is telling a story to a group of guys including Henry and the punchline of the story is, "Yeah, I told this guy to go f*** his mother" and then he sees this guy again and he says, "Hey, I thought I told you to go f*** your mother!" All the guys are laughing hysterically, including Henry who says, "You're really funny." Tommy seems to take this more as an insult and asks him, "Funny how? Like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to f***ing amuse you? What do you mean funny?" The whole table is silent and Henry has to try to backtrack what he meant so he's not insulting Tommy anymore than he (apparently!) already is. He tells him he thought the way he told the story was funny and Tommy gets even more angry and says, "How the f*** am I funny?" Henry gets a little freaked out then calls him out and says, "Get the f*** out of here!" and Tommy laughs and says, "I almost had him!" So he was just playing with him the entire time. Although, as it turns out, when he gets angry, sometimes he's not always playing around. This proves to be true in another scene when the guys are playing poker and and a young guy named Spider (played by Michael Imperioli aka Christopher (Christofuh!) from The Sopranos) is serving them drinks. He misunderstood Tommy wanted a drink after delivering the beverages to the table and Tommy says to him, "Where's my f***ing drink?" Spider tries to explain to him he thought he said he didn't need a drink, but this only makes matters worse. Spider asks him if he wants a drink and Tommy says, "Yeah, I want a f***ing drink! Move it, you f***ing bastard!" He thinks it would be hilarious if he made Spider "dance" and takes out his pistol and shoots him in the foot. The other guys are like, "What's the matter with you, Tommy?" and Henry goes over to help Spider. Tommy says, "So what? He got shot in the foot! Big f***ing deal!" Henry and another guy go take him to get his foot taken care of and Tommy says, "Let him crawl there like he crawls to get the drinks!" He is laughing and smiling and obviously does not feel bad he just shot someone in the foot. (Well, he does do worse things than shoot people in the foot and he never feels bad about those either!) He tells Spider, "Don't make a big f***ing thing out of this, you little prick!" and "It was an accident!" At a following game, we see Spider has a cast on his foot. Tommy makes fun of him and Spider tells him, "Why don't you go f*** yourself, Tommy." Big mistake. BIG. MISTAKE! The other guys (except for Tommy who is just sitting there looking mighty pissed!) are laughing and Jimmy jokes that he has respect for Spider for standing up to Tommy. The second he tells Tommy, "You gonna let him get away with that?", I KNEW Spider was a dead man. Because Tommy takes out his gun and just brutally blows him away. All the guys are shocked and Jimmy says, "I was f***ing kidding with you and you f***ing shoot the guy?" And I'm thinking, Well, maybe you shouldn't have egged him on! We all knew this was going to happen!

I wrote in my Breakfast Club review that I grew up knowing Emilio Estevez best as the coach from The Mighty Ducks because that was the generation I grew up with. Well, it probably won't surprise you when I say that Joe Pesci will always be one half of the Wet Bandits from Home Alone to me. I was a kid when that movie came out (and you know I'm a big Home Alone fan!), so I will always associate him with that movie. It only came out two months after this one, but I was too young to see Goodfellas! I don't even think I was even aware of it until several years later. Haha, can you imagine if Tommy DeVito was the character in that movie? First of all, I don't think Kevin would survive! Or Marv after that scene with the crowbar and the tarantula! Second of all, those f-bombs would be dropping every which way!

I heard somewhere that 27 people who were in this movie, would later go on to appear in The Sopranos, which is pretty much the TV version of Goodfellas. I already mentioned Michael Imperioli, but probably the most well-known one would be Lorraine Bracco who plays Henry's wife, Karen Hill. They first meet on a double date they have with Tommy and a woman who is a friend of Karen's. While Tommy and his date are canoodling and having a great time, Henry and Karen aren't talking to each other and show no interest in each other. Another double date is set up, but this time Henry doesn't show up and Karen is pissed about that. We suddenly get voice over from her which was a little jarring at first because so far at this point, we've only heard voice overs from Henry. When she confronts Henry about standing her up, he is attracted to her fiery personality and they soon start dating.  There's a great scene where Henry takes her to the Copacabana nightclub and instead of going through the front doors and waiting in line, he takes her through the back and there's this great one-take scene of them walking through the back halls and the kitchen. Here's the scene:

Man, I tell you, that Marty Scorsese is a great movie director. That is a brilliant scene. This is why I enjoy this movie so much; a lot of the scenes just suck you in like this one. Although I will say I mostly associate that song with Adventure in Baby-Sitting! (I have seen that movie a lot more than this one! This is only the second time I've seen Goodfellas).

Needless to say, Karen is very seduced by Henry and becomes even more attractive to him when he beats up her neighbor with the handle of his gun when he tries to get too handsy with her. Henry hands Karen the bloodied gun and she says she knows this would have scared most woman, but it made her even more attracted to him. They eventually get married, but that won't stop Henry from having some fun with another woman on the side.

The movie begins with Henry, Jimmy, and Tommy driving at night when they hear a sound coming from the trunk. They stop the car and open the trunk to reveal to the audience a bloodied and beat up man who they thought was dead, but is still alive (but barely because he looks really bad). We see Tommy take out a huge knife and stab the poor guy several times and then the movie starts in chronological order. About an hour in the movie, we will find out about the man in the trunk. He is a mobster named Billy Batts and he did a very stupid thing by insulting Tommy. Do these people never learn. You don't f*** with Tommy DeVito! Not if you want to live! Billy is actually an old friend of Tommy who he hasn't seen in several years because they do hug and seem happy to see each other after all this time. But then Billy starts joking around with Tommy about his shoe shining days and this really ticks off Tommy. (Someone needs to go to anger management!) Billy tells him to calm down, that he's only kidding with him. Everything seems to be calm, but then Billy (who must be a really idiot), has to make another crack and this really sets Tommy off and he goes to attack Billy, but is stopped by Henry and Jimmy. Later, when Billy is alone, Jimmy distracts him so Tommy can sneak up on him and start beating the crap out of him with Jimmy's help. They put him in the trunk of the car and head to Tommy's mother's house because Tommy tells them there's a shovel at her house. Here's a fun fact: Tommy's mother is played by Scorsese's real-life mother, Catherine Scorsese (Another fun fact about this movie is that Samuel L. Jackson has a small role. He plays a man who helps the guys with a big heist, but then after he carelessly leaves a trail for police, he is whacked). He tells the guys to be quiet because he doesn't want to wake her up, but she's already up when the enter the house. She ends up making this big Italian meal for the three men in the middle of the night and Tommy takes this huge carving knife and asks her if he can take it because he hit a deer (he explains to her that's why he has blood on his shirt!) and he needs the knife to hack off the hoof of the animal! We then return to the very first scene of the movie and see him use the knife to stab Billy and kill for good this time. Since Billy was a made man, Tommy soon gets his comeuppance and I think we all saw that coming!

Towards the end of the movie, things start to spiral for Henry and he is forced to go into the Witness Protection Program and rat on Jimmy and mob boss leader, Paulie (Paul Sorvino). I just love the way this movie is shot; lots of brilliant camera work. Yes, the movie is very violent, but it IS a gangster movie, after all! It also makes me want to read the book it was based on. I am looking for something to read!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Don't Bug Me

Director: Frank Marshall
Cast: Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, Harley Jane Kozak, Julians Sands
Released: July 18, 1990

"Arachnophobia" is a noun defined as the pathological fear or loathing of spiders. Even though I don't particularly care for spiders, I wouldn't say I have arachnophobia. If I see one on my wall or ceiling, I"ll just grab a plastic cup and trap it under there, then place a measuring cup over it to make sure the spider doesn't get out (I don't want it touching me!) I will either toss it down the toilet, or, if I'm feeling generous, I'll let it outside. My most recent "scary" encounter with a spider was about a year ago. I felt something on my leg and I just figured it was my cat's tail brushing up against my leg because that's what it felt like...but when I looked down, I saw a daddy-long-legs on my bare legs. OMG, I shrieked so loud and brushed that sucker off of me! Ughghghghg! I hate the feeling of creepy crawlies crawling on you! 

However, my most terrifying encounter with a spider happened when I was about six or seven years old. I was sitting in my bed, doing whatever (like I remember...this happened a long time ago! I was probably reading or playing with My Little Ponies because those were my toy of choice!) and I had my bedspread folded over. When I unfolded the bedspread, I saw, I swear to God, I am not making this up, the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen in my entire life. It was black and was about the size of a sand dollar and I remember it looking very shiny, like it had this sheen to it. But like I said, this happened so long ago that I may be remembering certain details wrong! Surprisingly, I remember being very calm and went down to the basement where my dad was and told him there was a spider on my bed and he came up and disposed of it for me. I'll have to ask him if he remembers this. I feel like if this spider was as big as I remember, there's no way he would be able to forget about it! 

But other than those two instances, I haven't had any really bad experiences with spiders. I had already seen this movie twice before (and I could have sworn it was rated R, but it's PG-13) but it still make me shriek out loud several times. I scared my cat, who was sitting next to me, the first time I shrieked. This is the beginning of the movie where an American photographer is in Venezuela taking photos of new species of insects British entomologist James Atherton (Julians Sands) hopes to find in the Amazon. They spray this gas up into a tree and all these different insects fall out and into jars that they have set up to collect them. They hear bigger thumps and notice a few spiders, quite large. The photographer asks Atherton if the spider is dead and he assures him it is and he gets really close to the spider with his camera and the spider jumps on the lens! OMG, that made me shriek so loud, thus scaring my poor cat! Then I screamed again, minutes later, when the photographer, who isn't feeling very well and has a fever, takes a nap in his sleeping bag. Unbeknownst to him, one of the new species of spiders has crawled and hidden in his bag and it crawls in his sleeping bag and I screamed when he felt something and opened his sleeping bag and sees the spider and it bites him on the leg. The guy dies and they think it was because of the fever.

He is sent back to his small home town of Canaima, California along with the spider that hitches a ride in the coffin. The spider makes its way outside where it is captured by a crow who drops dead after the spider bites it and it ends up in the woods near a house with a barn. The Jennings family from San Francisco is moving into this house. Ross (Jeff Daniels) is a doctor who has moved to the small town to take over the practice of the aging town doctor, Dr. Metcalf. He has moved here with his wife, Molly (Harley Jane Kozak - yeah, I've never heard of her either) and his kids, Shelley and Tommy. We learn very quickly that Ross has arachnophobia when his son tells him there's a spider in one of the moving boxes and he has his wife come and deal with it. She tells them that the spider is more afraid of them than they are of it. She lifts it up with a magazine and carries it to the barn. Well, guess who else decided to make its home in the barn? The venomous Venezuelan spider. There is an odd scene of the two spiders rubbing legs together as they have fallen in love and now are going to procreate (ugh!) A huge web is spun in the barn and hundred of eggs are hatched :::shudder:::

Molly, who is a photographer, has found the web and takes photos of it, thinking it's beautiful. It is quite an impressive web. She also takes Ross to see it, thinking it might be good therapy for his fear of spiders. His fear goes back all the way to when he was two years old. He claims he remembers being in his crib in his diaper and a spider crawling along his bare skin, paralyzing him with fear and he has never gotten over his arachnophobia. As he's looking at the web, the ladder breaks and he falls into it and a DEAD RAT is revealed to be caught in the web. The Jennings are laughing about the whole incident, but I would be a little concerned that there's a dead rat in the web...spiders aren't suppose to eat rats! That would send alarm bells off in me!

Ross finds out that Dr. Metcalf has decided not to retire and wants to keep his practice so this means that Dr. Jennings only has one patient, an older woman who is a retired teacher. He (half-jokingly) tells his wife he hopes she has a lot of things wrong with her, but she turns out to be quite healthy. She was on heart medication, but he tells her she doesn't need it anymore. When she is found dead in her house a few days later, he admits he took her off the pills and Dr. Metcalf blames her death on that, but Ross is adamant that she didn't need them anymore and wants an autopsy but Dr. Metcalf refuses. Even though she was technically Dr. Jenning's patient at the time, Dr. Metcalf says he has seniority over him since she was his patient much longer than she was Jenning's patient. What actually happened was she was bitten by a spider offspring that had crawled up her lamp and bit her hand when she reached to turn it off. There was a close call earlier when the spider was crawling on the couch her cat was sitting on and she scooped her up just before the spider reached her. There's also a scene earlier when the Venezuelan spider has just gotten out of the coffin and there's a cat hissing at it and a dog barking at it. I was so worried for all the cats and dogs in this movie the first time I saw this, but the only animal that dies is the crow...oh, and the rat found in the web. I can handle that, but I would have been so upset if any dogs or cats had died!

Ross gets more patients when the high school football coach wants him to give his players physicals. During a football game, a spider crawls into one of the player's helmets (after crawling on the bleachers and a handful of people unknowingly having close calls with it) and when the teen is called to be in the game, he puts on his helmet only to collapse seconds after being tackled. He is pronounced dead at the scene and everyone is confused because the tackle wasn't that hard. Can you imagine being the guy who tackled him, thinking you killed somebody? I would never play football again if I were him! Again, Ross is refused an autopsy of the young man. He has been given the unfortunate nickname "Dr. Death" since all his patients have died after being treated by him.

The next victim is Dr. Metcalf himself when a spider crawls into one of his slippers as he's walking on the treadmill. He's going to take a shower and is about to walk to the bathroom when his wife tells him that the floor is cold and he should put on his his wife basically killed him! He puts on the slippers, and, you guessed it, is dead seconds later. Ross and the police arrive at the Metcalf house. Mrs. Metcalf tells them her husband had complained about a spider bite, but one of the police officers thinks he died of cardiac arrest since he had just been on the treadmill. Ross finally gets to have an autopsy performed and the cause of death was caused by an excess amount of venom. Ross wants the two other bodies exhumed so they can see if they were also killed because of spider bites and finds out, indeed, they were. 

He gets in touch with Atherton who says that Canaima sounds familiar to him. Ross soon finds out that the photographer who died on a recent trip to Venezuela was from the same small town and they also find out he died from a poisonous spider bite instead of a fever.

Ross's daughter has a sleepover at her friend's house and he tells the girls if they see any spiders, to run away. We get a scene of the girls scaring each other with spider riddles and songs, and of course, we see a spider slowly making its way down on its web-making material (whatever you call that!) The girls never even notice the spider (and why would they notice such a small creature?), but a doll laying around near them OPENS ITS EYES when the spider descends down. Um, how the hell did a doll manage to open its eyes on its own?? Is this doll related to Chucky or something? Geeze, that was almost creepier than anything with spiders in this movie. There's also another scene where Ross is checking his kids' room to make sure there are no spiders in sight. He checks under the bed and around the room and claims the rooms are "all cleared". Does he really think those rooms are cleared of spiders? Does he know how small spiders are and they can easily hide in every nook and cranny? That would be terrifying if there were spiders around that could kill people within minutes. I'm surprised the entire town wasn't quarantined! 

By this time there are so many spiders that an exterminator named Delbert (John Goodman) is called. His company is called Bugs-B-Gone. This movie is classified as a comedy-horror and he provides most, if not all the comedy moments. He doesn't seem to be a very good exterminator, though, because instead of spraying the chemicals in the rooms where people claim they saw spiders, he just looks around and says, "No spiders here." He does this in the bathroom of the high school coach. The coach's daughter had been taking a shower and she's closing her eyes as she's washing her hair and a spider is crawling along on the curtain rod, then it FALLS ON HER FACE! :::Shudder::: For some reason, she doesn't even notice there's a spider on her face...and she wasn't even under the nozzle! I would understand if she was standing under the water and didn't notice it. The spider crawls down her body and she only notices it when it's on her foot and screams. When Delbert comes to the house, he just looks behind the toilet, but doesn't do a good job because we see that one is hiding behind there!

Atherton sees the photograph of the web that Molly took that's in Ross's waiting room and wants to be taken to the barn because he knows that's where the nest is. He recognizes the web as the same one the photographer took in Venezuela. He goes inside the barn, knowing full well how dangerous these spiders are and knowing he's entering their domain and ends up getting attacked and killed by the OG spider. Delbert later comes into the barn (smartly wearing protective gear...I don't know why EVERYBODY didn't cover themselves from head to toe in hazmat suits) and finds Atherton's body wrapped in the web material. He arrives not long after the spider attacked Atherton so I don't know how the hell he got wrapped up so quickly!

Ross needs to urgently ask the undertake a question, but his phone is off the hook because he and his wife want to watch Wheel of Fortune without any interruptions. They also make popcorn to watch it which seems like a waste of popcorn to me....popcorn should only be consumed when watching movies! That should be a law! He arrives at the house to find both of them dead. I understood why the wife died because we see her reaching for a handful of popcorn (while her eyes are on the TV screen, of course!) and there's a spider in the bowl she grabs. So she must have eaten the spider and died from its toxins...but then how did her husband die? Unless the spider bit her hand, she shrieked and flung her hands and the spider ended up on her husband and bit him too? I guess that makes more sense....but you never see how they were killed, just that they're dead when Ross arrives at their house.

Now knowing that the nest is in his barn, he knows he must go back and kill the "Queen". His house is crawling with spiders and he's trying to get his family out. There's a nice little '80s/'90s cultural reference with Family Ties being on TV and they see a spider crawling down the screen on Michael J. Fox's (aka Alex P. Keaton....yeah, I watched Family Ties!) face. Ross tries to kill the main spider but even throwing it into the fire proves to be unsuccessful as it just leaps out back at him! He ends up shooting a nail at it with his nail gun and all this nasty liquid comes oozing out of it. But before that there was this scene that made me jump out of my skin! He sees the spider go through a pipe and is waiting at the other end with a lighter and a can of bug spray so he can light the spider on fire when it comes out the other end, but he waits and waits and nothing happens. When he takes down the flame, the spider comes rushing past him and jumps on his face! OMG, that scared me so much. I feel like spiders should not be this smart!

I found this movie to be more on the horror side, than on the comedy side! I definitely jumped and shrieked more than I laughed! In fact, I don't think I ever actually laughed! I may not have arachnophobia and I prefer to keep it that way....just keep the spiders away from me!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pop Quiz, Hotshot!

Director: Jan De Bont
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels
Released: June 10, 1994

Oscar nominations:

Best Sound (won)
Best Sound Effects Editing (won)
Best Editing (lost to Forrest Gump)

Speed is one of those movies I wished I had been able to see in the theaters. It's probably been a good ten years since I last saw it and I was getting very into the movie; screaming and shrieking at my TV and holding my breath at certain times and I can only imagine what it would have been like to see it in a theater full of enthusiastic movie goers. This has to be one of those movies that is a great movie theater going experiences. The most recent one I had of those is last year when I saw Jurassic World and you could just feel a palpable excitement in the air and someone was even humming the theme song before the movie started. 

This movie, simply put, is AMAZING! I love it so much! If you haven't seen this movie for whatever reason, what are you waiting for?? Go see it now! Everyone knows this movie as the "Bomb on the bus movie." There are three acts to this movie and the "bomb on the bus" part is the second act, and of course, the longest. But before we get to that, we need a little backstory first.

Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels play L.A. SWAT team members Jack Traven and Harry Temple who are called to an office building where a mad man named Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) has rigged an elevator full of 13 people with explosions and is threatening to detonate it unless he gets three million dollars. Everyone is rescued and nobody dies, but there are some close calls and when the last person is rescued from the elevator, seconds later it comes crashing down to the ground and smashes into smithereens. Jack and Harry find Payne, but he escapes and detonates his bomb and everyone thinks he's dead....OR IS HE???

The next scene is the medal ceremony of Jack and Harry accepting their medals for rescuing the 13 people in the elevator. I have no idea how much time has elapsed since the actual accident. One day? One week? One month? Hell if I know! But we are getting closer to the second act of the movie and this is when things start to get good. A bus explodes after Jack has gotten some coffee and exchanged some friendly words with the bus driver who he seemed to know. Luckily, no one else was on the bus. I had totally forgotten about the exploding bus and it kinda startled me when it happened! As he's running towards the bus to see if the bus driver made it (does he really think anyone could survive that??), he hears a pay phone nearby ringing. Haha, a pay phone! Well, it WAS 1994! He answers the phone and surprise, surprise, it's Howard Payne, the mad man. I should mention that the ceremony was televised and we see a scene of a man with a thumb missing clapping when Jack gets his medal and it is revealed to be Payne. He tells Jack that he's very upset that he messed up his elevator job because he had taken three years to plan this and now he has planted a bomb on a bus! Um, so it took three years to plan the elevator bomb, but a bus bomb only takes a month to plan? I want to know how much time elapsed!! I'm so confused. He tells Jack, "Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?" He got the "pop quiz" part from Harry who said that to Jack in the first act when they were trying to figure out what to do. Jack tells him he'd want to know what bus it is and Payne tells him it's the bus numbered 2525. He obviously wanted Jack to find the bus because he easily and readily gives him not only the bus number, but also the location of where the bus left from so Jack races to catch the bus which is now getting on the freeway....and for eight a.m. in Los Angeles, it doesn't look THAT busy. It's busy enough that the bus is still below 50 (we see close ups of the speedometer every few minutes and it does get a bit higher each time). Oh, remember the bus that just exploded? Well, several minutes has passed and there are NO police cars or firetrucks that have come to investigate it or put out the fire. You think someone would have called 911 when they saw an exploding bus, no?

Jack really needs to find this bus and soon because Payne said he will turn off the bomb if he gets his 3.7 million dollars by eleven a.m. and it's eight right now. He races around the other cars as much as he can. The traffic is slowing down because of construction and he gets caught in the roadwork and decides to get out his car and run to the bus and screams at the bus driver to open his doors. Well, of course the driver isn't going to open the doors if they see some random dude running and screaming to be allowed to get on the bus. And he also hits the door with his fist and breaks the glass...would you let somebody like that on a bus? No, I don't think so! And like Sam (the bus driver) said, "This ain't no bus stop!" I don't understand why he didn't just flash his badge and then I can see him being able to get on the bus. The traffic starts to let up and the bus gains some speed. Jack stops a black man in a convertible with a license plate that says TUNEMAN and flashes his badge at him and the guy exclaims, "This is my car! It's not stolen!" and Jack replies, "It is now!" At least he let the guy sit in the passenger seat instead of making him get out like so many other movies do when the main character needs a car and just steals it from some poor soul and makes them get out, probably to never see their car again.

He catches up to the bus and motions for the driver to roll his window down so he can yell, "There's a bomb on your bus!" Because of the wind, the driver can't hear him, so Jack's passenger has to relay the message and after he says, "There's a bomb on your bus!", he realizes what's he saying and turns to Jack and says, "WHAT?!" By this time the bomb has activated because the bus has now reached 50 mph. Jack wants his passenger to write "BOMB ON BUS!" on a piece of paper and hold it up so the driver can see it. He pulls in front of the bus and the guy holds up the sign, but it blows out of his hands and right into the windshield of the bus where the driver sees it before it blows away. Naturally, he lifts his foot off the gas pedal as anyone would do in that situation. Your first inclination would be to stop a vehicle that has a bomb on it and evacuate it! Realizing the bus is starting to slowly down, Jack drives next to the bus and tells him to open the door and tells him to make sure he keeps the bus over 50 mph. He asks his passenger if his car is insured and when he learns that it is, he speeds up ahead of the bus, opens the door, then slams on the brakes so the bus comes by and rips the door off. He tells the man to take the wheel so he can jump on the bus and while he's doing that, a passenger (played by Alan Ruck), who is visiting L.A., takes a photo of him. Now, if this movie were made today, the guy would be taking a video of him and uploading it to Snapchat!

As far as the passengers go, we only really get to know a handful of them. Including the driver and Jack, there are 19 people on the bus. Being that the movie takes place in Los Angeles, there is a diverse group of people on the bus. The driver is African-American; there is an elderly African-American couple and a couple African-American women on the bus; there's an elderly Asian woman; there's a couple of Latino guys; and there are some white people. Obviously the passenger that has the most screen time is the one played by Sandra Bullock, Annie. Even though Bullock had been in a handful of movies before this, Speed was really the movie that catapulted her career. She has been taking the bus lately because her license was revoked for speeding. When she first gets on the bus, she's talking to a passenger named Helen who tells her she likes taking the bus so she can relax all the way to work without worrying about traffic. Oh, haha, movie, how funny! When Jack jumps on the bus, Annie asks him if he's crazy and demands to know what's going on. A young Hispanic guy charges at him with a gun, thinking the police is there for him. I wonder what he did? You know, we never do find out. Jack takes out his gun and points it at him and tells him he doesn't care about what he did and explains about the bomb. A big guy that Jacks nicknames "Gigantor" attacks the guy with the gun and the gun ends up going off and shoots the bus driver in the shoulder. Annie takes over driving the bus and Jack knows she'll be good for the job when she admits to him that her license was revoked for speeding.

Jack has Doug, the tourist, call Harry (he took the car phone from the car he hijacked) so he can tell him about the bomb. He is able to lift a floor panel on the bus so he can look underneath the bus at the bomb. There's a funny moment when Jack says "F**k me!" and Doug hesitates for a moment and translates it as "Oh, darn." The reason Jack had such a reaction is because there was "enough C4 o put a hole in the world." Annie sees that traffic is starting to back up again and wants to know where they should go and Jack tells her to get on the shoulder at the next exit to get off and she does and she is just ramming into poles and signs and other cars. It is such a hot mess! She is now off the freeway and has to run through red lights and has a scary close call when a lady with a baby carriage is crossing the street and she hits the carriage and it goes flying through the air. Naturally, she is freaking out because she just thinks she killed a baby, but then it is revealed - thank God - that the carriage was only full of cans and they go everywhere when the carriage lands.

They now have a police escort which Jack's boss, Mac (Joe Morton) has arranged for them.  The police cars go past a teacher with a group of kids waiting to cross the street and after they pass, the teacher thinks it's okay for them to cross now. Apparently they didn't see the huge bus that comes whizzing by and jump back just in time. Mac has also arranged for the bus to be escorted to the 105 Freeway which hasn't been open to the public yet, so they will be able to cruise on that for awhile without worrying about obstacles while they think of a way to safely get the people off of the bus. Mac wants to transfer the passengers from the bus to a flatbed truck that the police are driving next to them, but Jack tells him they can't do that because Payne told him if any passengers get off the bus, then he will detonate the bomb. Jack knows that Payne will know because there are news helicopters above them so he knows they are being shown on TV. He gets a call from Payne (he called the police and asked to speak to Jack) who tells him he better be careful. Jack asks him if he can at least unload the bus driver who's been shot as a show of good faith and tells him it might help him get his money faster. Payne agrees to this arrangement but says he better not let anyone else off. After Sam has safely been transferred, Helen decides to go for it and as a police officer is reaching out to help her, Payne detonates a smaller bomb that he has placed on the first step and she falls and slips under the bus. This is when all the passengers realize that this whole ordeal is real now and they're all very shaken up by the death of one of their fellow passengers. Even though I know the movie would have ended right here if it had happened, I do wonder why Payne didn't detonate the entire bus like he told Jack he would if any passengers got off the bus and he could clearly see that was what Helen was doing. Guess he just wanted to give him a scare before he decided to kill EVERYONE.

As if losing one passenger wasn't bad enough, they soon get more bad news when Mac informs them that a section of an overpass on the highway up ahead is missing....about fifty feet! Jack tells everyone to put their stuff under their seats and cover their heads. OMG....if I were on this bus, I would be so scared! I mean, I would already be scared in the first place because of the, you know, BOMB, but if I were informed that the bus I was riding on was about to jump a 50 foot gap in the freeway, I'd be thinking, Oh, HELL NO! He tells Annie to speed up and just seconds before they reach the gap, he grabs her and covers her head and the bus makes its leap and lands on the other side. It's a little (okay, A LOT!) bumpy, but everyone is okay and they all cheer. I'm sorry, but I call BS on this. There's no way that bus would have been able to jump that! But I loved it!

Jack tells Annie to get off at the next exit which takes them to the airport. This way they can just cruise around the runway in circles. He is granted permission by Payne to get off the bus (he tells them if he is able to get off, his money will more likely be delivered to him). He goes under the bus on a wooden plank with wheel to see if he can diffuse the bomb while talking to Harry, but while that is going on, the bus hits some debris on the runway (uh....I would hope they cleared that debris before any planes took off on that runway!) and Jack gets caught up and he almost goes under the back wheel, but manages to stab the oil tank with his screwdriver and lets go of the wheely device and it goes under the wheel and Annie starts freaking out, thinking they have run over Jack. Ortiz, the passenger Jack nicknamed "Gigantor" looks under the panel and sees Jack hanging onto the bottom of the bus and pulls him up through the panel door. Doug asks him, "Did you have any luck with the bomb?" and Jack replies with, "Yeah, it didn't go off!" Jack is safe, but the bus is now leaking gas and they are about to have an empty tank. Jack realizes that Payne is able to see them because he has hooked up the bus's camera to a TV in his home. He tells Mac this and he gets a TV news crew person to tape off the bus and then play it so Payne thinks he's watching a live stream of the bus, but it's actually just a tape and this way they are able to transport everyone from the bomb bus to a safe bus. Payne only notices this when everyone is off the bus and it has run into a plane and exploded.

We now get into the third act of the movie and while still exciting and full of suspense, this is where it sort of drops off for me. The reason why I watch this movie is for the bomb on the bus! And not only do we not have a bus with a bomb on it anymore, we no longer even have a bus! The SWAT team has found out that Howard Payne is a former police officer who feels he deserves a lot more than what he got when he retired. Harry and a team go to his home, only to find a huge bomb (of course) that goes off and kills them all. Payne poses as a police officer and tells Annie that she needs to come with him. (Remember, he knows what she looks like from the camera on the bus). When Payne doesn't show up to collect his money where he instructed the police to put it, Jack knows something is up. Now instead of a bus, the movie is taking place on a subway! Jack finds Payne with Annie who has a bomb strapped to her. Payne takes her on a subway. He is holding a controller and if he lets go of the button, the bomb will explode. See, I would rather have a controller where I pushed the button rather than have to hold it down. I would be so worried that my finger would slip! Whenever I'm in a really long line at a drive-thru, I'm always worried my foot is going to come off my brake so if I know I'll be there for awhile, I'll just put my car in park. That's weird, I know. Jack gets on the subway and climbs on top of the car that Annie and Payne are in and Payne gives the remote to Annie to hold (after killing the subway conductor) and gets into a fight with Jack. They are really close to the ceiling and there are these low hanging lights which Payne gets decapitated with and Jack makes this odd comments about being taller which makes no sense.

They manage to stop the bomb, but Annie can't get off the subway because she is handcuffed to a pole so they cling to each other as the subway crashes, but they survive and kiss. However, three years later they are no longer together because that's when Speed 2 came out and Annie is now dating the guy played by Jason Patric who replaces Keanu Reeves in this film. I guess he was smart when he decided not to be in that movie! I saw Speed 2 but I don't remember anything about it except that it takes place on a cruise ship and it was bad. Even Sandra Bullock has said it was a pretty bad movie! I don't remember if they explain why Annie and Jack are no longer together. Watch Speed, but skip its sequel! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Problem Child

The Good Son
Director: Joseph Ruben
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Elijah Wood, Wendy Crewson, David Morse
Released: September 24, 1993

I have mentioned a few times on here how I was a huge fan of Heath Ledger’s, like a legitimate fangirl. The height of my Heath, ahem, obsession was when I was 18/19/early twenties. HOWEVER, before that, when I was 11/12/13, there were two young actors my age who I thought were soooo cool because they were already Hollywood stars at such a young age and they were soooooo cute, like I was totes in luv with them! You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Of course I’m talking about Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood, the quintessential early ‘90s child actors! Why do you think I watched My Girl 30 + times? Why do you think I gushed over Elijah so much in my Forever Young review? Being that I was too young and The Good Son was rated R, I was not allowed to see it in theaters...I may or may not have cried about that....shut up! It's so unfair! I did get to see it when it was on video when I was 13. :::rolls eyes:::: It is interesting that 1993's two most popular twelve-year-olds were the leads in a rated R movie. Who exactly was the audience for this movie since their fanbase was way too young? 

Let me tell you a story that proves my fangirlness. As if you doubt me! This probably began in the fall of '93. I decided I was going to write to Macaulay and Elijah with the goal of getting their autographs. Only problem was, I didn't know where to send my letters. I think while the Internet did exist back in '93, I did not have access to it at that time. So I wrote to Disney Adventures, this magazine I subscribed to when I was a kid/preteen. It's where I got all my Hollywood news for kids/teens and they often had articles about Mac and Elijah so I knew they would be a good source for me. I did get a reply back from them and they supplied me with their agents'/fanclub addresses. Macaulay's was located in New York and Elijah's was in L.A., but of course I already knew that much! So I wrote them both letters and I don't remember anything I wrote. I'm sure I told Elijah that I had relatives who lived in Iowa since I knew he was from there (thanks, Disney Adventures!) I do remember keeping the letters only one page and I didn't write anything too psychotic. And I'm sure I asked both of them for their autographs since that was the purpose of my letter writing. I never heard back from Macaulay, but he was a pretty big star at that time and probably got loads of fanmail. However, while Elijah had been in the same amount of movies as Mac (they were each in 8 movies between '90-'94), he wasn't as famous since he didn't have a Home Alone and in March '94 I received an autographed pic of him. So I have thirteen-year-old Elijah Wood's autograph. That's pretty cool, right?  

Major spoilers ahoy! I am literally going to spoil everything. 

Totes adorbes behind the scenes!
This movie stars Macaulay as Henry Evans, an EVIL twelve-year-old demon child. Elijah plays his cousin, Mark, who will find out about Henry's evil ways! Okay, I have to get this out of my system because my inner twelve-year-old fangirl comes out when I watch this movie: OMG THEY ARE SOOOOOOOOOOO CUTE IN THIS!!!!!!! SO. FREAKING. CUTE! I mean, the things Macaulay does in this movie aren't quite so "cute"!

This movie, which is described as a "psychological thriller", is not scary at all. There are a few creepy parts, but, if anything, the movie is funny at times. Unintentionally, of course. There are some pretty horrific scenes, don't get me wrong! Okay, get ready to hear some shocking news: the screenplay was written by IAN MCEWAN!!! Yes, Ian McEwan, author of Atonement. Isn't that crazy?

The movie starts with Mark's mom dying from cancer or something (after he promises her he won't let her die; good job, kid!) and his dad (David Morse) has to go to Tokyo on an important business trip, so his brother, Wallace, who is Henry's dad, is at the funeral and suggest that he let Mark stay with them while he's away since they're "family". Okay, let me just add that Mark and his dad live in the Southwest and Wallace and his family live in New England and aside from his uncle, Mark hasn't seen his relatives in ten years (which is mentioned later) so he hasn't seen them since he was two! Um, wouldn't it be easier and more practical to let him stay in his home state with a friend from his soccer team?

But....whatever...that would just make too much sense! So they drive all the way across the country and Mark meets his Aunt Susan (Wendy Crewson; she's best known for playing the First Lady in Air Force One), and his cousins, Henry and Connie. After they all have dinner, Mark says goodbye to his dad who tells him, "Cheer up! It's Winter Break." Okay, why is he telling his son, whose mother JUST DIED, to "cheer up?" And he's actually the most stable adult in this movie! I am so confused by when this movie is suppose to take place. Winter Break would imply that it's around Christmas, but you don't see the house or anywhere else on the island decorated with Christmas stuff. I just figured they both get a winter break in February.

The first two days the two boys bond and everything seems to be going okay. Henry shows Mark his ridiculously high tree house. This is one of the more well known scenes where Elijah steps on a branch that snaps and Macaulay grabs him and asks, "If I let you go, you think you could fly?" before helping him up. Well, guess what, Dollface? You're about to test that theory in six days! And the answer is going to be NO! No, you can NOT fly when someone lets go of you as you're dangling from a perilous ledge hundreds of feet above the ground!

"Fly, you fool!" 

After vandalizing an old building, they hang out in a graveyard with a randomly placed well where Henry takes out some cigarettes and offers one to Mark who says they give you cancer and Henry says, "Who cares? You're gonna die anyway." LOL! Um, you are TWELVE! OMG! I mean, he might as well light up cuz he's gonna be dead at the end of the week! Henry asks Mark if he saw his mother after she died and says that he got a good look at his kid brother, Richard, after he drowned. He says that people don't like to talk about death and that you have to "investigate" it and that it's "scientific". This is one macabre kid! The next day they get chased by this ugly dog across a bridge. I laughed when Macaulay says, "Nice knowing you!" and they start to run. Okay, who is letting their dog run rampant on this bridge to maul these adorable children? Granted, one of these children does deserve to get mauled! They reach the end of the bridge where Henry closes the gate and barks at the snarling dog and Mark's looking at him funny. You can tell he's starting to sense there's about his cousin.

"Keep the change, you filthy animal!"
I love how Mama Evans, who lost her toddler son in a "freak accident" (or so she thinks!), lets her twelve-year-old son and nephew run amok on this island...let's hope they don't fall off any cliffs! Or fall out of tree houses! Or fall into any wells! Or get mauled by a dog!

Kevin McCallister shows Nat Cooper this contraption he made that shoots steel bolts. They test it out and Henry aims it at a cat and Mark tells him, "Just give her a good scare" and he's says, "Sure" in a sinister voice and shoots the gun and the bolt goes into a tree near the cat...and the cat doesn't even flinch! Um...if something came whizzing past my cat's head, he would get the hell out of there! But, WHAT? He tried to kill that cat? Somebody needs to SLAP that kid across his adorable and cherubic face! Ironically, it's Mark who will get slapped later on. Poor Mark. I just want to give him a hug and some hot chocolate and a puppy. There's no other Elijah Wood character I feel worse for than Mark Evans; it's true! His aunt and uncle are absolutely atrocious to him. They don't listen to him and if they do take five seconds to shut up and hear what he's saying; they don't believe him and call him a liar! They hit him and they lock him in rooms!

The adults in this movie, they're what the French call "les incompetent". This includes a child psychologist named Dr. Davenport that Mark's aunt and uncle got for him to talk to. This woman is probably the worst child psychologist in the whole New England area. Nothing too bad happens at their first meeting; Mark just tells her that he let his mother die. Aww, poor kid, you gotta stop beating yourself up about that. Oh, yeah, Mark thinks his mother is coming back, "maybe not as herself", but in some form she is going to return to him. Cuckoo! He wakes up in the middle of the night when he hears something and sees a woman walking barefoot in a white robe. He thinks it might be his mom and starts crying when he realizes it isn't and when his aunt comes over to comfort him, he says, "It is you! You came back!" The camera pans above so we see Henry looking down at them, not looking very pleased by the moment his mother and cousin are sharing. This scene helps my theory why Henry is the way he is, but I'll get to that later.

"Look what you did, you little jerk!"
The third day is when things start to get a little tense between the two cousins. They're playing with Henry's bolt gun and he kills the dog that was chasing them the other day. Mark gives him a horrified/disgusted look to which Henry tells him, "I was only trying to scare him" which is a lie because he specifically said he was targeting the dog as he aimed the gun toward it. That was no accident! They put the dog in a burlap sack and heave it into the well. The dog wasn't huge, but it was a lot bigger than the sack they were carrying. The producers could have at least tried to make the bundle the size of the dog! 

We get another bonding moment between Mark and Susan talking about their deceased loved ones. Henry wants to show Mark something in the shed and it's so obvious Mark doesn't want to go with him. Henry apologizes about the dog and once again says it was an accident and asks him, "You don't think I would do a thing like that on purpose, do you?" (YES!) He introduces Mark to "Mr. Highway" (a real original name as we'll soon find out!), this dummy that's dressed in his dad's clothes. He tells Mark that if he helps him, then he'll promise him "something amazing, something you'll never forget." Well, with temptation like that, who can resist? I guess Mark's curiosity outweighs his common sense and he helps Henry carry the dummy to an overpass and hoist it up where Henry then proceeds to push Mr. Highway (who is apparently suicidal) off and into oncoming traffic below. After they watch a ten car pile-up (and nobody even notices them!), they run and hide from the police in a drain pipe. Realizing that he was being used as an accessory to murder, this is when Mark knows for a fact what a f**ked-up cousin he has. They have a very interesting conversation, but I will come back to that later when I attempt to psychoanalysis this movie. Get ready for that! Luckily, Mark is NOT a murderer because nobody was killed or seriously injured in the "accident" as we see on the news later that night. He goes to tell his uncle, who's in his office, but is stopped when Henry comes up to him and threatens that if Mark says anything, he will only twist it around to make it sound like it was Mark's idea.  

Cutest fight ever!
The two boys get into a fight after Henry's little sister comes into their room and Henry grabs her by the ears to teach her a lesson about entering his room without permission. Mark attacks him and they get into a hair pulling brawl. It's interesting that whenever they get into a physical altercation, it's always Mark who starts them. Henry threatens that something might happen to Connie before Susan enters the room and tells them to stop fighting and Henry puts on his boyish charm and says they were only playing. Please, kid. You're not fooling anyone with your blond hair and cable knit sweater! His mom says, "It looks like you two were trying to kill each other!" (Since when does pulling someone's hair look like you're trying to kill them?)

Henry causes more mayhem when they're all eating lunch the next day, announcing to his parents that Mark wants to move into Richard's room. Mark knows this is a sore subject, especially for Susan, and vehemently denies this but they're not even listening. Okay, if I were him and was offered another room on the third floor instead (they live in a ridiculously massive house), I would jump at the chance because I wouldn't want to stay in the same room as some psychopath! No, thank you! Even though I feel really bad for Mark, I do laugh every time Henry goads him. I just think it's so funny. ("I don't want to move in there." "Now, Mark, don't lie.") I'm a terrible person! Poor Mark. 

That night, the parents go out to dinner and the three kids are left....wait for it....HOME ALONE! Connie announces they're going to play hide-and-seek. Henry turns out all the lights not even after his parents are out of sight. Mark runs into Henry who shines a flashlight in his face and says, "Hey, no fair!" and Henry does the creepy flashlight lighting up his face move and says, "No fair? What do you think this is, a game?" Yeah, L'il Frodo, what do you think this is, a game? Even though they were both in the same room at that moment, the next scene shows both of them in separate parts of the house looking for Connie. You think Mark would stick with Henry to make sure nothing happens...duh. After he hears a scream from the attic he runs up and sees Connie pinned down by Henry. But she's laughing and he's just tickling her.

After an adorable scene of Mark reading Madeline to Connie (he convinced her to hear a bedtime story instead of keep playing their game), Henry mocks him with, "That was a darling story, Mark." So mean, but so funny! (And it was darling!) He tries to enter her room, but Mark does his best "You shall not pass!", but fails because his cousin just shoves him aside. Henry once again threatens that something might happen to his sister and Mark sleeps on her floor to "watch" her, only this doesn't quite work because when he wakes up the next morning, he finds out that Henry has taken her ice-skating and he runs all the way to the pond where Henry has flung his sister towards the thin ice and she falls in. Funny how a little girl stands on the ice and falls in, then when two grown men skate out with axes to get her out, they don't even fall through. Huh?! Connie is fine, but Mark figures it's probably time to tell someone and when he does tell his aunt, she only slaps him and says how dare he accuse her beautiful, adorable, angelic, precious, most cherished son of doing something so monstrous and to NEVER come to her with these LIES again! Poor Mark! So he calls his dad and pleads for him to get back soon because "Henry's been doing things, terrible things!" and "He's got everyone fooled...everyone thinks he's this great kid, but he's really evil." I laughed so hard at his dad's response: "EVIL!?!?!?" That would probably be how I would react too. I mean, that's a pretty loaded word! Poor darling Mark; nobody believes him. His dad tells him to tell Dr. Davenport so he goes to her house only to find Henry is already there and she's like, "Mark! Henry says you two have been having some problems!" and he goes, "HE'S the problem!" and "He's got you fooled like everyone else!" and runs off. Henry pretends to be "concerned" for Mark, saying he scares him sometimes and Dr. D asks him to explain everything, so Small Wonder is like, "Everything?" It is presumed that he tells her everything "Mark" has done, although I do wonder why she never called the parents and told them to keep their nephew under lock and key. But seriously, this woman, who is suppose to be a child psychologist (and she's pretty old so she's probably been doing this for quite a few years!) can't tell when she's being manipulated by a child! In the words of Mac's best friend from another movie, "Dr. Davenport, are you sure those are yours?"

Later, Mark tells his cousin, "Sooner or later, they're going to find out about you" and that he already told his mom, but Henry isn't concerned because "She's my mom, not yours" and Mark is like, "No, she's my mom now" and I'm thinking, Let's not goad the sociopath! This does not make Henry happy and he says, "Hey, Mark, don't f**k with me." And this is after he tells Mark that his mom is maggot food. OMG, what did Elijah ever do to you, Macaulay? Besides replace you as a last minute presenter at the '94 Oscars because your dad was being too difficult and wanted all these changes, so they yanked you from the spot.

That night, Mark wakes up to find Henry's bed empty (WHY IS HE STILL SHARING THE SAME ROOM WITH A PSYCHOPATH!!?!) and goes downstairs to discover the refrigerator door open and Henry sneaks up on him and insinuates that he might have put something in his family's food and Mark starts throwing everything in the garbage disposal while Henry gets his parents. I'm pretty sure this is a crime punishable by death in Hobbiton! "Young Mr. Frodo, not the spaghetti and meatballs!" And we all know there's going to be hell to pay if he throws away any cheese pizzas! Okay, all stupid jokes aside, it actually is quite a disturbing and sad scene. They see Mark as this disturbed kid who's just gone off the deep end and is accusing their son of trying to poison them.

We need to talk about Kevin Henry
After last night's incident and what Mark told her, Susan finally decides to get a clue and snoop around in Henry's creepy Unibomber shed. There she finds a rubber duck that belonged to Richard. The worst thing Henry does is offscreen. I'm guessing this takes place in the year before the movie is set (they never really tell you when it happened). We learn that his little brother (who I think was at least two?) drowned in six inches of water when Susan was giving him a bath and left the room to answer the phone. (Why couldn't she just let the phone ring?) We also learn that Henry was the only other person in the house. Hmmm... Now Henry never admits he killed his brother (who is played by Rory Culkin in a photo), but it's pretty obvious. When his mom straight out asks him if he killed Richard, he says, "What if I did?" That is cold, kid! When he comes in the shed, his mother confronts him about the duck and asks him about it, saying, "You know I was looking for this" and Henry tries to put on his boyish charm again, saying he wanted something to remember Richard by and can he have it back and his mom is like, "No, you can't have it BACK!" and they get in a tug-of-war with the duck and he grabs it and runs to the well and drops it down there.

Okay, it's time to psychoanalysis this movie. There's this scene earlier where Mark is talking to Dr. Davenport and he asks her what makes people evil and she tells him that's "a word people use when they've given up trying to understand someone" and "There's a reason for everything." Mark doesn't think there's a reason for Henry's evilness; he thinks it's just the way he is. As much crap as I've given the good doctor, I'm actually on her side here. I think there is a REASON for why Henry is such an awful child. I just don't think they executed it as well as they could have. (Way to drop the ball, McEwan!) I think he killed his brother because he was jealous of the attention his parents were giving him. When his mom questions him about the duck he  says, "It was mine before it was his." He did not like that his little brother had his old toys, but most importantly he did not like that his little brother had his parents' attention. This is evident by the way Henry is extremely jealous any time Mark has a bonding moment with Susan. There is a very telling line Henry tells Mark in the drain pipe after the traffic accident he causes. Mark is clearly upset about what has just happened and Henry says to him, "I feel sorry for you, Mark, you just don't know how to have fun" to which Mark replies with an astounded, "What?" and Henry says, "It's because you're scared all the time. I know. I used to be scared too. That was before I found out." This right here tells us that Henry wasn't ALWAYS a little turd and that once upon a time he was a "normal" kid, or at least not a little terror! Mark says, "Found out what?" and Henry tells him, "That one you realize you can do anything, you can fly. You're free. Nobody can touch you". He gives his cousin the philosophical advice of, "Mark, don't be afraid to fly" to which Mark just stares at him in horror and tells him, "You're sick." Maybe if Henry had been an only child, he would have been okay?

Now that his mom has figured out his EVIL ways, Henry has plans to off her. Wait a minute...he killed his brother, tried to kill his sister, and is now planning to kill his mother? Makes the line "I made my family disappear!" sound REALLY creepy! But first he must work on his "crying" skills so he can at least pretend to be sad when she "accidentally" dies. When he asks Mark if he cried at his mom's funeral, Mark says, "You wouldn't hurt her!" and Henry goads him, once again making me laugh. He says, "Do you really think I'd hurt my own - oh, wait. I just remembered. She's not my mom anymore, she's your. Isn't that what you said? She's your mother now. My mom, your mom, what the hell? We'll both miss her." This displeases Huck Finn so he grabs a pair of scissors and lunges at Richie Rich, threatening to kill him. Well, at that moment, Wallace comes in the room and sees his nephew pinning his son down with a pair of scissors at his throat. This does not look good for Mark. His uncle grabs him and says, "This is serious; you could have hurt him!" and Mark's like, "He's the one who wants to hurt people!" Uh huh. Says the kid wielding the sharp object at the other kid's throat! And Henry's like, "I'm sorry you don't want to be friends, Mark!" Nicely played, kid. 

Despite Mark's pleas for help, Wallace locks him in his office and tells him he's going to call Dr. Davenport. He ends up breaking a window with a chair when he sees Henry and Susan going for a walk. His uncle and Dr. D try to stop him, but he just runs past them out of the room.

By this time, Henry has pushed his mom off a cliff and she manages to land on a narrow ledge a few feet down. Henry is about to throw a heavy rock at her, but Mark shows up right at that second (what great timing that kid has!) and attacks his cousin. They fight dangerously close to the edge of the cliff (and this time it actually looks like they're trying to kill each other!) while Susan climbs back up. She gets back up just at the moment her son and nephew start to tumble off the cliff and she runs and grabs both of them. We now have what is probably the best ending ever in cinematic history. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but this ending is amazing! She has to choose between her first born, her own flesh and blood, who she still loves despite his, uh, horribleness. And then there's her nephew, who she does like, but he's not even blood related to her! And the last time she saw him was ten years ago. Poor Mark; no wonder he looks so terrified! While Henry has a pretty good grip on her and is saying, "Mom, I need your other hand" and "I love you, Mom", Susan's grip on Mark is slipping (he's only holding onto her with one hand while Henry is using both of his). She knows any second Mark is going to slip so she looks at Henry with a sad and apologetic look and lets go of him. I mean, she made the right choice. Her son pretty much admitted he killed his little brother and he tried to kill her, let's not forget that! And if her nephew hadn't shown up at that point, she'd be dead...I think she owes him that much! And I am cackling evilly as he screams while he plummets to the rocky shore below. That's got to be a pretty horrible way to go, but the little sh*t deserved it. Okay, do yourself a favor and watch this brilliant video. It is so hilarious!

So it's been almost 23 years since this movie came out and I was wondering if Macaulay and Elijah have talked about their experience on this movie (besides the adorable behind the scenes feature on the DVD they did while they were filming it) and the answer is yes, yes they have. The Internet and YouTube are amazing tools. I found an interview Macaulay did with Larry King about ten or eleven years after The Good Son came out. People could call in and ask questions. One woman asked him how he made such a switch from being in a movie like Home Alone to The Good Son. He said it was a movie he really wanted to do because it was different than anything else he had ever done before (although I could argue that Kevin and Henry aren't that much different!) He wanted to see if he could play a part like that and if he could "go to those places". I had a feeling he was going to add more, but stupid Larry King had to change the subject completely! Ugh! Elijah did a Q&A a couple years ago and someone asked him what it was like working on that movie and he said he was really excited about it because it was the first really "dark" movie he had ever done. (Although I would argue Radio Flyer is pretty dark and that came out a year and a half prior). He said his mom was okay with him being in the movie since he did not play the evil kid. (Very interesting since Mac's dad was adamant about his son playing the evil kid!) He talked about the ending where he and Macaulay are hanging off the cliff and said while it was a fun scene to shoot, it was also scary because when he was suppose to be slipping, the stunt person would move the cable he was attached to and drop him a little bit. He said this scene was filmed over Lake Superior in northern Minnesota (which I already knew) and that below them were "safety boats", only they had to keep them out of frame so they weren't exactly that close. Okay, I'm sorry, but if someone fell from that cliff and hit those rocks, I don't think any "safety boats" are going to be any help! But I suppose they had to cover all their bases and of course everything was safe. They're not going to let two twelve-year-olds hang off of a cliff if they didn't think it was safe!

1993 just called!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Daddy Dearest

My Father the Hero
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Gerald Depardieu, Katherine Heigl, Dalton James, Faith Prince, Lauren Hutton, Steven Tobolowsky
Released: February 3, 1994

If you have any recollection of this movie, you're probably either thinking, "Oh, it's that movie Katherine Heigl was in when she was 14" or, "Oh, that's the movie with the really creepy premise", or, perhaps both thoughts crossed your mind. This movie is actually a remake of a French film called Mon Pere Ce Heros (take a wild guess what that translates to in English) which Gerald Depardieu also starred in as the dad. I've never seen the French version so I have no idea if they executed it better or not.

Andre (Depardieu), who lives in Paris, is taking his fourteen (almost fifteen!) year-old daughter, Nicole (Heigl) on a trip to the Bahamas. Nicole lives in New York with her mom (Lauren Hutton) so Andre hardly sees her. Nicole is  your typical bratty teenage girl and is not impressed or happy that her father is taking her on an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas. This movie came out about a decade before Grey's Anatomy aired on TV and Katherine Heigl was fourteen when she filmed it. Obviously, this was one of her very first roles.

Nicole sees a cute boy at the hotel when her father is checking them in and she's staring at him while she's walking and runs smack into a table. This is one of the only truly funny scenes in the movie. She sees the boy again when she's out on a private beach and sees him snorkeling. He comes up to her and asks her how she got there because it's a private beach and that a "kid" like her shouldn't be trespassing. Nicole gets very indignant and tells him she's 18. The guy, whose name is Ben, is probably in his early 20s (I don't remember if they ever get an exact age). She desperately wants to impress him, so when she sees him at an outdoor party their hotel is having for all its guests, she tells him that the older man she's with is her boyfriend! Ugh, gross! She also admits that she's not really 18, but 16, so while she's closer to her actual age, she's still lying! Ben calls Andre her "sugar daddy" and Nicole makes up this elaborate story about how she used to be on the streets hooked on dope and Andrew was the one who saved her and took her in and that's how they met.

There's only one person who knows that Nicole is actually Andre's daughter and that's Diana (Faith Prince),  a woman who stalks rich and handsome men at fancy resorts, looking for her next husband. She has her claws set on Andre even though he already has a girlfriend back in Paris (who is played by an uncredited Emma Thompson in one scene...I don't blame her for wanting to be uncredited!) Everyone else has heard the rumors that this man in his fifties has a teenaged girlfriend and naturally they're all disgusted by it. Nicole told Ben that she and Andre have to pretend to be father and daughter when they go on vacation so people don't think their relationship is weird (you think?!), so everyone thinks that's just a charade they're putting up when Andre tells them she's his daughter.

There's a scene where Andre plays the piano to a room full of people and they all start leaving, when, of all the songs he chooses to sing, is called "Thank God For Little Girls". Yeah, a little creepy! He soon finds out what's been going on and is furious at his daughter as he should be. His daughter is the reason everyone thinks he's a child molester. However, he goes on with her plan because...I have no idea...apparently Nicole still needs to pretend to be dating an older guy to impress Ben. I don't even know why she's trying to impress this guy, anyway. They're never going to see each other again after this (unless Ben is from New York....I really can't remember where he was from).

He ends up being Nicole's first kiss and I'm sure if he knew the girl he was kissing was actually fourteen he might be a little skeeved out! Her father is up on the balcony to witness it...because that's every girl's have their father watching their first kiss!

This movie is so bad and so disturbing on so many levels. And it's not just that, I honestly don't care about any of the characters. I found them to all be boring. When we get Andre calling his girlfriend in Paris and asking her to marry him and to have a child, I really did not even care! Sure, it was amusing to see Katherine Heigl in one of her first roles, but it's really disturbing that she had to wear that bathing suit with her butt hanging out! Seriously, no girl on vacation with her own father would wear that! Skip this one!