Sunday, May 29, 2016


Mary Poppins
Director: Robert Stevenson
Cast: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomilson, Glynis Johnson, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber
Released: August 27, 1964

Oscar nominations: 

Best Actress - Julie Andrews (won)
Best Director - Robert Stevenson (lost to George Cukor for My Fair Lady)
Best Adapted Screenplay (lost to Edward Anhalt for Becket)
Best Cinematography, Color (lost to My Fair Lady
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (lost to My Fair Lady)
Best Costume Design, Color (lost to My Fair Lady) (Sidenote: why do they need a different category for the costumes in a color film and the costumes in a black and white film?)
Best Sound (lost to My Fair Lady)
Best Film Editing (won)
Best Special Visual Effects (won)
Best Original Song - "Chim Chim Cher-ee" by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman aka The Sherman Brothers (won)
Best Music, Substantially Original Score - The Sherman Brothers (won)
Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation, or Treatment (huh???) - (lost to My Fair Lady)

Okay, I'm about to admit something that will most likely get my cinephile card revoked: I don't particularly care for Mary Poppins. :::ducks out of way of oncoming tomatoes::: It's been a very long time since I've seen this movie and now I'm starting to wonder if I ever saw it in its entirety. I've been keeping track of all the movies I've seen on DVD since 2003, so I went back to check my archive and I have not seen this in the last 13 years. The last time I saw it was most likely when I was a kid, but aside from the more well-known scenes, I don't remember watching it at all! I absolutely adore Julie Andrews (who was 28 when she made this) and she's great as Mary Poppins, but my God! This movie is so long and it drags! It takes awhile before we're introduced to the titular character. If you've read my review of Saving Mr. Banks, you will know that I had no idea Mary Poppins was based on a book by P.L.Travers, who, in real life, was quite a vile woman. I actually really liked that movie ad found it fascinating. Supposedly the only thing she approved of was the casting of Julie Andrews who, as we all know, plays the magical nanny.

The Banks family are looking for a nanny for their two children, Jane and Michael (who are a bit creepy looking if you ask me!) Their recent nanny has quit because she "lost" the children again. Wanting to help, Jane and Michael compose their own saccharine ad for what they're looking for in a nanny and sing it to their parents. Their dad (David Tomilson) rips up the piece of paper and throws iti n the fireplace, and it somehow finds it way to Mary Poppins who lives on a cloud or something.

I should add there's this running gag with a neighbor who shoots a cannon ball at a precise time everyday and Mrs. Banks and the maids have to hold the valuables and breakables in place. Fun fact: Mrs. Banks is played by Glynis Johnson, the woman who played the grandmother in While You Were Sleeping. She's still alive at 92 years old!

The next day, there's a long queue of nannies applying for the job, but a big gust of wind caries them away and Mary Poppins is the only one there when the maid opens the door to let the interview process begin. Since she's the only one there, she get the job (she pretty much decides it for herself). My favorite part of the movie is when she meets the children and is setting up her room. Everyone knows this scene with her carpet bag where she takes out many items including a hat rack, a lamp, and a mirror and Michael goes under the table to see how she's doing that.  And we get the scene where she measures the children. Each measurement come with a personality trait and her is "Mary Poppins...practically perfect in every way." She teaches them to clean their room, all they have to do is snap their fingers and everything will go back in its proper place. I wish I could do that.

Mary Poppins introduces them to Bert (Dick Van Dyke) who has many of his chalk drawings displayed in front of a park and they jump into one of them. This is the sequence where they combine live action with animation. P.L. Travers really hated this sequence and fought to keep it out of the movie. I hated this sequence because it goes on forever...this movie is two hours and twenty minutes did not need this scene!

Even though I do love the songs (because I grew up with many of them), I was so bored by this movie! Maybe since there's no nostalgic factor for me, it doesn't hold my interest.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My ten favorite American Idols

This has nothing to do with movies, but this is my blog and so I can post about whatever I want to! As you all know American Idol ended and I thought I would share with you my favorite ten AI alums. I do have to admit I stopped watching the show in 2009!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Movie montage #5

Please enjoy the FIFTH movie montage I have made. If you want to see the other movie montages I've made, just click on the "montage" tag. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cry Little Sister

The Lost Boys
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Jamison Newlander, Jami Gertz, Dianne Weist, Edward Herrmann
Released: July 31, 1987

Spoilers ahoy! 

This movie is everything you could expect from a cult classic from the '80s: pure awesomeness. Now, it's not a particularly great movie, but that just appeals to its awesomeness. It's just so over the top and campy. And full of homoerotic scenes, but we'll get to those later! 

The movie starts with the recently divorced Lucy (Dianne Weist) moving her two sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) from Arizona to a place in California called San Carla which is unofficially dubbed "The Murder Capital of the World". Yikes, I would not want to live there! They move there because her father lives there and they are going to live with him. He is a very odd, old man, his hobby being taxidermy and he even gives Sam, the younger son, a stuffed beaver to put on his bed stand (which Sam will hide in the closet). He tells his grandkids to stay out of the box in the fridge marked "Old Fart" because that's where he keeps his root beer and double-stuffed Oreos. 

Lucy gets a job at a video store and starts seeing the man who owns it, Max (Edward Herrmann). It's funny because he played Lauren Graham's father / Alexis Bledel's grandfather on Gilmore Girls and I'm watching that show on Netflix right now. I'm just about ready to start season 4. I didn't even notice his name in the credits, but when he came on screen, I was thinking how familiar he looked and then it clicked together. 

While Michael and Sam are at an outdoor concert together, an attractive girl catches Michael's attention and he ditches his brother to follow her. But let me back up and tell you about the concert they're watching. I don't even know who they're seeing, but the lead singer is this buff, shirtless, greased-up guy with long hair and tight pants and he swivels his hips as he plays the saxophone. If that's not the gayest thing I've ever seen, I don't know what it is!

OMG, LOL, I just did some "research" on YouTube to see if I could find that scene and I did, only somebody edited to make it look like Michael was looking at the gyrating hip guy when, in the movie he was looking at the hot girl. Look up "The Lost Boys Sax Man Scene" on YouTube. Haha, I am dying now! 

So Michael follows the girl who turns out to already be taken. Her name is Star (Jami Gertz) and she leads Michael to her boyfriend, David (Kiefer Sutherland) and his other friends who all have motorbikes. They're all part of a gang that David is the leader of, but there's something about them that Michael can't quite put his finger on. For one thing, they live very dangerously. They have a bike race where Michael narrowly misses going off a cliff, then they all hang from an overpass with a train track and try to hang on as long as they can while the train passes before falling into a deep and mysterious gorge. Michael wakes up the next day in his bed, not even remembering how he got back home.

The same night Michael ditches Sam, Sam goes to a comic book shop where he meets the Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander). They tell Sam they are vampire hunters and that the town they live in are crawling with the creatures. They give him a comic about vampires, telling him that it could save his life because it tells you everything to do to ward yourself against vampires. This turns out to be crucial for the young Sam because it turns out his very own brother has turned into a vampire! The reason he was able to fall into the gorge from the overpass was because he had turned immortal after drinking some blood David and the others gave him. If you haven't already guessed, they are all vampires! 

The next day, Michael's first full day as a vampire, his thirst for blood is too tempting for him and he starts heading upstairs to the bathroom where Sam is taking a bubble bath washing his hair while singing a song that includes lyrics like "I'm a lonely boy" and "I ain't got no man!" And he does this high pitched note....omg, so funny. For some reason, his dog is also in the bathroom with him (not in the tub, but on the floor). I never have my cat in the bathroom with me if I'm taking a shower. For one thing, what if he needs to eat or use his litter box? I don't want to have to get out of the shower to open the door, then get back would get my floor all wet. But the only reason the dog is in the bathroom with him is so he can lift his head as he hears Michael approaching and snarl. When the door opens, the dog attacks the older boy. Sam asks what he did to his dog, then realizes that Michael has become a vampire when he notices his reflection in the mirror has started to become hazy. He locks himself into his room and calls his mom, who's at a restaurant on a date with Max. When he sees Michael is outside his window and it looks like he wants to attack him (even though he just wants to talk), he screams, "He's going to get me!" His mother freaks out, hangs up the phone and runs to her car. We see Max at the restaurant looking out the window and seeing his date run to her car and peel out of the parking lot, haha! By the time she gets home, Michael has calmed Sam down and he realizes he's not going to hurt him. Their mother is very angry with them for ruining her date. 

Sam calls the Frog brothers for their help. They say that as long as they kill the head vampire, then everyone else should go back to their original, mortal form. They conclude that Max must be the head vampire since this all started around the time Lucy met him. When Lucy invites him over for dinner, Sam also invites Edgar and Alan and they have everything planned to out him as a head vampire. Sam gives him parmesan to put on his spaghetti and meatballs, but it's actually garlic and while he has a bad reaction to eating so much garlic, he doesn't burn up in flames or turn to ash or whatever vampires do when they are killed (and, as we will later learn in the movie, no two vampires ever go the same way). Also nothing happens when he is doused with holy water. When they turn out the lights, he doesn't glow as he would if he were a vampire, not to mention they can clearly see his reflection in the mirror. However, there's a very interesting scene when he arrives at the house and he says he won't enter until Michael, the man of the house, has invited him in. And we all know what that means! 

They figure that must mean David must be the lead vampire which seems pretty obvious to me. After they get ready for a surprise attack in the cave where he resides with his other vampire buddies (which includes a hilarious scene of the Frog brothers running into a church during a baptism to fill their canteens with holy water), Michael leads them there where they find the four vampires sleeping upside down like bats. Cuz they're vampires, get it? Though I don't think we actually see them turn into bats. Since Michael isn't there with him (he's busy trying to get Star and a little kid whose "missing" picture is on the back of a milk carton out of there), they don't know which one David is so they decide to kill all of them. Even if Michael had told them that David was the blond one, it wouldn't have worked because three out of four of them have blond hair. Alan (or maybe it was Edgar? I don't remember) stabs one of them and David and the other two wake up and chase them until they can go no further because they've reached daylight. (No sparkling vampires in this movie!) 

Since they've taken Star and the young boy they turned into a vampire, they know that David and the other two vampires are coming to get them. There's a suspenseful scene where the dog is tied up in the front yard and Sam suddenly remembers him and runs out to get him and the others are screaming at him to get back because David and the others are coming and he manages to get inside just in the nick of time. They manage to kill the two vampires that aren't David (with very bloody and disgusting results), but when Michael does manage to kill David, he doesn't feel any different and nothing has changed. It is because David was NOT the head vampire all along! I am as shocked as you! Actually, this was my second time seeing the movie (I know, I know, I've only seen this movie two times, how pathetic is that?) and I had totally forgotten that! It turns out MAX was the head vampire all along. When he and Lucy return to the house after a date and see the house is a mess (and that's a word to put it lightly), he tells the boys that since he was invited into the house, then the vampire tricks wouldn't work on him. Huh, I don't think that's how it's suppose to work, but then again, there are no set rules on vampires. Just look at Twilight. The vampire "rules" in those books are all over the map. Speaking of which, I need to see if I can find any good Lost Boy / Twilight fanfic where the Frog brothers kill Bella and Edward. That's gotta be out there! 

Of course they manage to kill Grandpa Gilmore and Michael, Star, and the little boy all return to their old, mortal selves. 

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that Sam wears a pink shirt that says "Born to Shop." He obviously got that shirt at Bloomingdales because I have a white shirt that says "Born to Shop" that I got at Bloomingdales when I visited New York. I think Sam might have been gay because not only does he wear that shirt, but he also has a poster of '80s heartthrob Rob Lowe on his closet door. I am not kidding! 

As we all know, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim were both '80s icons and starred in a few movies together. The '80s wouldn't be complete without the two Coreys! The only ones I've seen are this one and License to Drive. I did see the direct-to-video sequel of The Lost Boys, but I don't remember anything about it except it sucked (no pun intended!) The Lost Boys was the first movie they did together. Now if I had to pick a side, I would choose Team Feldman because he was also in other great iconic '80s movies such as Gremlins, The Goonies, and Stand By Me (wow, I really need to write a review for that soon, don't I? I talk about it a lot! Well, luckily I own the DVD...what a shock!) Looking through Haim's filmography, I discovered the only movies I've seen of his are the ones I've seen him in with Feldman. 

Can somebody please tell me how "Cry Little Sister (Thou Shalt Not Fall") didn't even win the Oscar for Best Song, let alone even get nominated!?!??!??! WHAT!?!?!??!  That is the most amazing song ever! I mean, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing DID win that year, so at least a good song won, but I still can't believe "Cry Little Sister" wasn't even nominated! I LOVE that song! "Crryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy liiiiiiiiiitttttttllllllllleeeeeeee ssssssiiiiiiiiiisssssstttttttterrrrrrr!" (That's my attempt at singing that song through text!) 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

You're Killing Me, Smalls!

The Sandlot
Director: David Mickey Evans
Cast: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Denis Leary, Karen Allen, James Earl Jones
Released: April 7, 1993

This is a movie from my childhood that I really liked, but it had been awhile since I last saw it, so when I saw it was on Netflix Instant, it brought back feelings of nostalgia and I had to watch it, though, I will admit, I was a little worried it wouldn't hold up. You see, a few years ago, I was watching TV and came across The Mighty Ducks, another movie from my childhood that came out six moths before this movie (and also sports related). I had it on in the background since I was doing other stuff, but I would occasionally sit and watch the movie...and while I loved the movie as a kid (and little Pacey Witter was as adorable as ever!) and it introduced me to the awesomeness that is "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark, I just didn't think it held up that well. 

However, you can heave a sigh of relief, because The Sandlot still holds up quite nicely. I found it very charming and I laughed a lot. I think it helps that it has that timeless quality to it. It actually reminds me a lot of Stand By Me (a movie I absolutely love) except there are no dead bodies and they aren't as quite as foul-mouthed (though they still get in a few swear words) and the kids in this movie don't quite have as many problems as the kids in Stand By Me. It's like a PG rated Stand By Me with baseball, let's just put it that way. 

The Sandlot takes place in the summer of 1962. It takes place somewhere in California (that narrows it down!), but I was listening to a podcast recently and I learned that it was filmed in Salt Lake City. Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) is a new kid in town and lives with his mom (Karen Allen) and stepdad (Denis Leary). He often sees a group of kids playing baseball in what is known as the sandlot. Scotty's mom tells him she wants him to go out and make friends and to get into trouble (but not too much!) She gets her husband to play catch with Scotty, only he is horrible at it. (Scotty, not the stepdad!) Not only can he not catch the ball, but instead of throwing it back (because he can't), he runs up to his stepdad to give the ball back, ha! He does catch the next ball that is thrown to him, but gets a black eye in the process because as it's hurtling towards his face, he lifts up his glove right in front of his face and the impact gives him a black eye. 

Benny (Mike Vitar), his neighbor, has seen Scotty at the sandlot a couple times and invites him to play ball with them. They have eight kids playing already, so a ninth will give them a team. The actors range in age from 11-14, so the median age is 12 which is the age I was when I saw this movie for the first time and the target age for the audience. Let's do something fun, shall we? Let's rank the kids of The Sandlot. From most important to eh, they just have a couple lines. Okay, here we go:

1. Scotty Smalls - since he's our main character, he's pretty important and has a major storyline and lots of lines. He narrates the story as an adult (much like in Stand By Me!) David Mickey Evans, the director and writer of the movie does the narrating. He's the only kid where we see his home life. He gets into "the biggest pickle" he's ever been in when he loses his stepdad's baseball that was signed by Babe Ruth ("BABE RUTH!?") After they lose a ball that Benny obliterated because he hit it so hard (because he is that good at the game!), they're all bummed because they can't play anymore since they don't have a ball and it's only noon. Smalls tells them he has a ball he can get and comes back with the Babe Ruth signed ball that his stepdad (who's out of town for a few days) kept on a mantle in his office. The ball ends up going across the fence and into the property of "The Beast",  a massive dog that lives on the other side of the sandlot and anything that goes over that fence is never coming back, whether it be a ball or a human. Scotty tells his friends they have to get the ball back because it belonged to his dad and was signed "by some lady name Ruth...Baby Ruth." The other kids gasp when they learn of the value that the ball possesses. Scotty has no idea who Babe Ruth is.
C'mon, how can you not know who Babe Ruth is? I couldn't name you a modern-day baseball player, but even I know who Babe Ruth is! (And I knew who he was when I was 12 too!) When he asks who Babe Ruth is, the other kids exclaim, "What?" 
"The Sultan of Swat!"
"The King of Crash!"
"The Titan of Terror!" 
"The Colossus of Clout!" ("The Colossus of Clout!")
"Babe Ruth!"
"The. Great. Bambino!" 
Benny has to tell him, "Smalls, Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player who ever lived." When Scotty realizes just how valuable that ball is (now chewed up and ridden with dog saliva!), he (and the other kids) know they have to get the ball back. I love the line he says when he's narrating as an adult, "After we thought about it real hard, we absolutely had no idea what the hell we were going to do." They come up with a few ideas and go on about getting the ball back with a few different methods...and I don't even know where they got all the stuff they used! They try poking a long stick through the fence and rolling the ball back towards them, but The Beast snaps it in half. Every time they make a contraption and put it over or through the fence, The Beast gets to it and it comes flying over the fence, all mangled. Kinda reminded me of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park

2. Benny Rodriguez -  to keep with the Stand By Me similarities, if Scotty is Gordie, then Benny is definitely the River Phoenix of this movie. He's the heart of the team. He's unequivocally the closest friend to Scotty. When he invites Scotty to play ball with them, the other kids are not happy about this at all, but he sticks up for Scotty. He tells him it's only baseball and not to think too much and just have fun. He gives Scotty an extra glove and a hat...both of which were stashed away in the back of his pants. Maybe someone should invest in a carrier bag? After the advice Benny gives him, Scotty does catch the ball Benny bats to him and the other kids start to respect him. 

He's the only one who gets any respect from the other kids who play real Little League. They tell the others they're all a joke to the sport except for Benny. He's also the one to help Scotty out of "the biggest pickle [he's] ever been in". After many failed attempts of getting the ball back, he has a dream where Babe Ruth comes to him and tells him that "everybody has one chance to do something great" and that this is Benny's chance and he shouldn't let it go by. Inspired by his dream, the next day, Benny hops over the fence (wearing PF Flyers, shoes guarantee to make a kid run faster and jump
higher). He has a standoff with The Beast (which, by the way, is an English Mastiff) and runs and grabs the ball...which is COVERED in dog saliva. Ugh, so gross! He jumps the fence, but the dog breaks free of his chain and also jumps the fence and proceeds to chase Benny all over town. And I mean ALL OVER! They run through a movie theater (with the dog jumping through the screen), they run through a Picnic in the Park event filled with people and we get the tall-layered-cake-almost-gets-toppled-by the-kid-and-dog-but-doesn't-and-two-bakers-are-relieved-but-then-it-does-end-up-getting-toppled-when-guy-on-stilts-loses-his-balance-and-falls-on-the-table scene! They run through the pool where a little kid says, "Mommy, mommy, look a doggie! Ooh, a big doggie!" They all return back to the sandlot where Benny jumps back over the fence (and takes a pretty hard fall) and the dog tears through the fence, but it ends up falling on him. Scotty is concerned for the animal and asks the others to help him lift the fence, but Benny is the only one who does. The dog walks over to Scotty and licks his face. (Ugh...nothing worse than dog slobber!) The two boys knock on the door and it is answered by James Earl Jones who plays the dog's blind owner, Mr. Mertle. They explain the situation and he asks why they just didn't knock on the door for him to get it for them. He invites Scotty and Benny in and tells Scotty since his Babe Ruth ball is ruined, he will give him another ball in return that was signed by the entire 1927 Yankee Team. We find out that Mr. Mertle knew Babe Ruth because he was also a ballplayer back in the day before he became blind. Oh, and the dog's name? Hercules. 

3. Michael "Squints" Palledorous - he's the kid with the thick, black-framed glasses. He's called Squints because he squints when he takes off his glasses. He gets a good amount of lines and has two "front and center" story lines. He's the one who tells Scotty the story of "The Beast" when the kids have a sleepover in their tree house. He starts out by saying, "The legend of the beast goes back a
Squints and Yeah-Yeah
long started about, eh, twenty years ago." Haha, I guess when you're 12, twenty years seems like a really long time ago! I love this kid's delivery of the story. So funny! "In a few weeks, the pup grew into The Beast. And he grew BIG! And grew MEAN! And he protected the junkyard with just one thing on his mind: To kill everyone that broke in! And he did! And he liked it! A LOT!" I love when he's giving the death toll of how many people The Beast has ever killed and says, "It added up to 120....173's true!" The "FOR-EV-ER" part is great too when The Beast's owner asks the police how long he has to keep the dog chained up and that's the answer. "FOR-EV-ER!" "FOR-EV-ER!" 

Squints has a crush on Wendy Peffercorn, a lifeguard at the pool. She's obviously much older than him (and the other kids on the team) so she towers over him by two feet. It's pretty funny. She's played by Marley Shelton, who was 18 or 19 when she was in this movie. When the gang goes swimming at the pool, Squints dives into the deep end and his friends are concerned because he doesn't know how to swim. Wendy ends up saving him and while she's giving him mouth-to-mouth, all of his friends are worried for him, saying, "C'mon, buddy, pull through!" or "You can do it, Squints!" At one point, when she's looking down and listening for his heartbeat, he opens his eyes and grins at his friends and goes in for the kiss when she gives him mouth to mouth again. One of his friends says, "Ooh, he's in serious sh*t." Haha! It was so obvious he was faking it because from the time he dived off the diving board until Wendy chases him away, he was holding his glasses. He never let his grasp go on them. If he was really drowning, his grip would have loosened. 

When they're trying to get the ball back, one of the kids suggest they just knock on the door and he says they can't do it, then later when they do knock on the door and Mr. Mertle asks why they didn't do that in the first place, all the kids groan at Squints who's like, "We got the ball back, didn't we? We got the ball back! "

He has some great lines where he calls Scotty "an L-7 weanie" and after he's waiting for Benny to stop talking to Scotty and continue the ball game, he says, "It's about time, Benny, my clothes are going out of style!" I love that kid! 

4. Hamilton "Ham" Porter - he's the fat, red-headed freckle-faced kid. He gets a lot of good one-liners. He's the one who has a mouth-off with the main kid from the Little League team when they trade insults. The biggest insult he gives the kid is, "You play baseball like A GIRL!!" I should probably be offended by that, but I don't play baseball. I don't even like baseball. (But I love movies about baseball...some of them...go figure!) He has the great line, "You're killing me, Smalls!" He says this a couple times in the movie when he gets exasperated with Scotty. One memorable time is when they're having their sleepover in the tree house and he asks Scotty if he wants a s'more and Scotty says, "Some more what?" He explains to Scotty what a s'more is after he says, "You're killing me, Smalls!" He's usually the catcher when they play ball and has quippy one liners he torments the batters with so they lose their concentration. This kid has the best facial expressions. 

5. Alan "Yeah-Yeah" McClennan - he's called Yeah-Yeah because he pretty much begins every sentence with, "Yeah, yeah!" He's Squints closest friend and because Squints has a lot of screen time, Yeah-Yeah is usually with him and gets a few lines. After he and Squints get back from buying a ball at the drugstore, Yeah-Yeah tells everyone that they were late because Squints was "perving a dish", haha! 

After the Babe Ruth-signed ball is lost and they go get another ball for Benny to sign the famous player's name to use as a decoy, Yeah-Yeah says, "Yeah, yeah, that looks pretty crappy! "and Benny says, "It doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it buys us time!" 

6. Kenny DeNunez - he usually goes by his surname. He's the token black kid on the team. The actor who plays him was also in The Mighty Ducks so apparently he's a good kid to have on your sports team. He has a few lines, but the others above him have more. He's probably the second best at baseball after Benny as he and Benny were the only ones to make the sport a career for them when they grew up. (Benny went on to be in the Major Leagues and DeNunez played for awhile, then coached a Little League team his sons were on).

7. Tommy "Repeat" Timmons - this is the youngest kid on the team. They nickname him "Repeat" because he always repeats whatever his older brother says. Therefore he is more memorable than his older brother. Fun fact: the same kid was also in My Girl; he played one of the boys at the beginning that Vada shows a "dead" body to. 

8. Timmy Timmons - Tommy's older brother who Tommy parrots. His most memorable scene is when they're trying to get the ball back and one of the tactics they use is sucking it up with these vacuums (not sure where they plugged them in in a treehouse!) and they start to go haywire and all
the kids except for Timmy jump out of the tree. The vacuums explode and Timmy is covered in dust. He is coated in dust. He walks up to the kids, shakes the dust out of his hair, heaves a heavy sigh and says, "We've been going about this all wrong. I blame myself. We need total surprise."

9. Bertram Grover Weeks - this is the tall, skinny kid with the glasses. I put him last because I feel like he would be the one player you would always forget if you were trying to list all the kids from The Sandlot. He has a couple lines, but he's just there. Sorry, kid! He is the one who gives out the chewing tobacco when they're at the carnival, then they all throw up when they're on the Tilt-A-Whirl. While I remember them getting sick on the ride, I thought it was because they ate too much junk food. 

But who am I to rank The Sandlot kids? I love them all! They're all great! (Though Benny and Squints are my favorites...and Scotty too, of course...he is adorable!) The soundtrack to this film is makes me nostalgic for the '60s even though I wasn't around for them! This is the perfect quintessential movie for the '90s child.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hanging with the Coopers

Forever Young
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Elijah Wood, Jamie Lee Curtis, Joe Morton, George Wendt
Released: December 16, 1992

OMG, you guys, eleven-year-old Elijah Wood is sooooo cute! Super cute! Someday I will tell you my Elijah Wood story, but that will go better with one of his other movies which I plan on reviewing soon. But before we get to eleven-year-old Elijah Wood in "modern day" 1992, we must first start with 36-year-old Mel Gibson in 1939 small town, California. Gibson plays Daniel McCormick, a U.S. Army test pilot. He has a best friend named Harry (George Wendt) who is a scientists and a longtime girlfriend named Helen who he plans on asking to marry, but keeps chickening out. I'm not really sure why because she seems to be just as into him as he is into her. But for some reason, he just can't get up the courage to ask her to marry him.

Right after his many (failed) attempts of getting up the nerve to ask the big question while they're at a diner, Helen tells him she has to go or she'll be late for work. While dashing across the street, she ends up getting hit by a car. She goes into a coma and six months pass without her waking up even though the doctors said she should have woken up two months ago. Because she hasn't woken up yet, the doctors are grim about her chances of recovery. A distraught Daniel stays at her bedside every night, not knowing what to do with himself.

Harry, his scientist friend, has told Daniel about his latest experiment: he plans to freeze somebody for a year in the chamber coffin he built to test cryonics on humans. His initial test subject has backed out and Daniel begs Harry to let him do it since he has no family and doesn't want to be around when Helen finally does die. A bit hesitant at first, Harry finally agrees since there isn't exactly anybody else volunteering for the job. Well, guess who dies in that year that Daniel is serving as a human popsicle? No, it's not Mel Gibson because then the movie would already be over. It's Harry. I guess he drank himself to death at the Cheers bar! And Harry was the only one who knew about the's just like in Face/Off when the only people who knew John Travolta had his face switched with a mad man were the two FBI agents and the doctor...all of who were brutally murdered. The only difference is that in this movie, Harry isn't brutally murdered...he just died.

Fast forward 53 years later to the sumer of 1992 in the same small town in California. This is when we meet (super cute!) Nat Cooper (Elijah Wood) who lives with his single mom, Claire (Jamie Lee Curtis) and is spending the summer hanging out with his friend, Felix. (I guess he was named after a cat?) They're the ones who discover the frozen Daniel in his coffin chamber that is located in an old, abandoned warehouse. They accidentally open the chamber and think they've stumbled upon a frozen dead guy, only Daniel wakes up and grabs Nat's jacket. The kids run away, screaming, the jacket left behind.

When Nat gets home, he tells his mom the truth about how he lost his jacket, but she doesn't believe him. Where do you think this ranks in the "truths that nobody believes" Elijah Wood tells people in his movies? We have "a frozen guy in a chamber located in an abandoned warehouse took my jacket." There's "my cousin, who everyone thinks is a great kid, is actually a sociopath and is doing terrible, terrible things" and "the teachers at my school are being overtaken by aliens." Those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. I feel compared to the other ones, this is fairly tame and can be laughed away by a kid with an active imagination. To her credit, Claire does seem amused by her son's story. She probably wouldn't be as amused if he told her his cousin was killing everyone or the teachers at his school were all aliens.

I don't know anything about cryonics, so maybe it's possible for a human to be frozen for 53 years and not die from, oh, I don't know, lack of food? But Daniel "wakes up" and is exactly how he looked in 1939. Good thing he has that jacket because he is nude so he can use it to cover himself until he steals some clothes that are hanging on a clothesline. He sees a sign advertising the 1992 Air Show and mutters, "Oh, brother." Okay, that has got to be a callback to Sam Beckett and all his "Oh, boy!" exclamations he utters in Quantum Leap, right?!? It would make perfect sense since this movie came out while that show was on. Maybe J. J. Abrams is a fan? Yes, he wrote the screenplay! He's credited as Jeffrey Abrams, though.

He tries to look up Harry in the phone book (does he really think he would still be alive after all these years? He was older than Daniel!), but since he has a common last name, the task proves to be a little difficult. He goes to the military headquarters where he demands to speak to whoever's in charge and proceeds to tell his story to a man who clearly thinks he's a lunatic. Conveniently, he still has Nat's windbreaker which has his name and address on the inside label so he goes to his house where Nat and Felix freak out and try to defend themselves with a hammer. After he calms them down, Nat lets him use his phone and Felix offers to steal clothes from his dad's closet for him. They take him to the library where Nat shows him how to use the microfiche machine so he can look up old newspaper articles. When they learn of Daniel's occupation, Nat exclaims, "Oh my God, Felix, we found a pilot!" like they found a puppy. He is very into aviation although the film could have done a little better job of portraying this.

Nat sees the redhead girl from his class who he has a crush on and attempts to talk to her (because who doesn't love redheads, haha!). "Hypothetically" speaking, if I were an 11-year-old redhead girl in the summer of '92 I would be all over this kid because he is soooooooooooooooooooooo cute! I mean, who else is she going to like? His little friend from Don't Tell Mom, the Baby-Sitter's Dead? No, I don't think so. He's not cute! Nat tells her he likes her dress and that it looks like wallpaper, which it does. It's funny because it's true! At one point, Daniel looks over and Nat smiles at him and gives him a "Yeah, I got this!" look. Cracks me up every time. Unfortunately, he does not have this because the girl only shows interest in him for a second, then ignores him. Crazy redhead! He is the cutest! But she comes to her senses in a later scene when she smiles at him after he sings to her (and after I died from the adorableness!).

Nat lets Daniel stay in his tree house and brings him food and a history book. He tells him he has to go (perhaps to a junior Council of Elrond meeting?), but first needs validation about his tree house. Once he has Daniel's approval that it's nice, he seems happy and leaves. While he's gone, an ex-boyfriend of Claire's has stopped by and is being aggressive with her. Daniel enters the house and punches the guy. After the guy leaves, Daniel is smart to tell Claire that he was just taking a walk when he passed her house and heard the commotion. Good call not telling her the truth that he was actually camping out in her son's tree house. Cuz that's not creepy!

To Nat's delight, Claire lets Daniel stay for a few days and makes up the couch for him. Yes, she just lets a total stranger stay with them! It's so weird! What kind of mother is she? All she knows about him is that he's a pilot. I don't even remember if they explain why, duh, he can't stay at his own house. Maybe he said he was out of town? But they have hotels! They just need him to stay at their house to fulfill some plot lines like have a five second romance between Daniel and Claire (both are already spoken for so of course it doesn't go anywhere...oh, and he's technically 50 years older than she is!) and being a father figure for Nat.

Nat wants Daniel to teach him how to fly, but the pilot tells him he cannot because he doesn't have a plane or a flight jacket so Nat comes home one day and gives Daniel a flight jacket he apparently bought for him. Uh...where did this kid get the money to buy that? Maybe Jamie Lee Curtis has a secret stash of money in a cookie jar like she did in My Girl? (Which were found by Elijah Wood's evil movie cousin! "Hey, where are all the cookies?") They use the tree house as the plane and there's a Lite Brite (!!) involved with the airspeed indicator (uh...maybe?) made on it. After the "lesson", Daniel, being in his 80s, starts to get sick and falls out of the tree and Nat finds someone to take him to the hospital. This entire scene has some horrible continuity. When Nat comes in to give Daniel the jacket, it was raining outside and Elijah Wood's clothes and hair are soaked and he looks like an adorable drowned rat. Then when they're in the treehouse, his hair is dry! But it's still raining because you can see it! Then when Daniel drops out of the tree house and Nat is running to find someone to help him, he gets soaked again. Then at the hospital when he's telling his mom about Daniel (she's there because she's a nurse), his hair is dry again! WTF?

Joe Morton is highly underused in this movie. Show the guy some respect; he's the (would be) creator of Skynet, for God's sake! He's only in a couple scenes at the end. He plays a government official who finds out about Daniel's story and is trying to get to him, but Nat and Claire sneak him out of the hospital with the help of Claire's doctor boyfriend. They find another lead and this time it's Harry's daughter who tells Daniel that her father died before she was born (oh, yeah, Harry announced his wife was pregnant at the beginning of the movie so this wasn't a big shock). It is revealed, however, that Helen is still alive (and was even married but her husband is now deceased, whew!) and she lives on some island off the coast. Good job, Mel Gibson, you just wasted the last 50 years of your life in a coffin chamber when you could have spent it with your paramour. Although, that's really Harry's fault for dying (and not telling anybody about his project!!). I'd be a little upset if I were him. However, he's happy that Helen is alive and wants to see her so they drive to an airfield where there's a B-25, the kind of plane that he flew in the '30s. Guess who sneaked on board? Nat claims he did it because Daniel "forgot his jacket". Please, kid. You just want to be on the plane because it's cool. It turns out to be a good thing he's there because Daniel is physically aging and all the health problems of the last 50 years have seem to caught up with him. If you haven't already guessed, the treehouse plane lesson scene was foreshadowing and Nat has to take the controls while Daniel tells him what to do. He screams, "Oh, crap, oh crap!" which I highly doubt is the word of choice anybody in that position would actually say! He also pleads to Daniel, "Don't die, okay!"

But of course everything is fine and he somehow manages to land without crashing and Daniel is reunited with Helen and and they adopt Nat as their grandson (well, they probably did!). There's a lot (A LOT) of plot holes in this movie, but I find it enjoyable to watch. Have I mentioned how adorable eleven-year-old Elijah Wood is?

Monday, May 9, 2016

We all fall down like

Toy Soldiers
Director : Daniel Petrie Jr.
Cast: Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Keith Coogan, Louis Gossett Jr., Denholm Elliot, Andrew Divoff
Released: April 26, 1991

Remember that Martika song from 1989?

Won't you come out and play with me?
Step by step,
heart to heart,
left, right, left
we all fall down like toy soldiers

Who doesn't remember that song? It's amazing! Unfortunately, this song has nothing to do with the movie as it isn't even played during it! Toy Soldiers the movie wasn't named after the song, but rather after a book it's based on...which I had no idea it was based on book and I've seen this movie many, many times. There is no way this movie would ever be made today because it's about terrorists taking a boarding school hostage. 

A post-Goonie, pre-hobbit Sean Astin plays Billy Tepper, a student at the Regis Prep School for boys who doesn't have a handle for authority. This is the third school he's been to as he's been kicked out of the other two. He sells alcohol to students by mixing vodka with peppermint schnapps and creme de ment so it looks and tastes just like mouthwash so no one will be none the wise. (There must be hardly any vodka in it if everyone says it tastes exactly like mouth wash because I feel like you would be able to tell if there was vodka in your mouth wash!) He hooks up a phone device he got from Radio Shack so he can call 1-900 numbers and talk to sex-phone operators. He (with the help of his friends) moves all the furniture from the Headmasters' office (we're talking couches, chairs, a huge desk, bookshelves, a globe, a phone, a bunch of books, and a rug) outside and places it exactly how it was in the office. 

Dean Parker (Louis Gossett Jr.) refuses to kick him out because he believes that's what the boy wants. Instead he punishes him with washing the pots and pans in the kitchen after meals and keeping a strict eye on him. While the dean is away, taking the confiscated alcohol off the property to confront the cop who has a brother who has a liquor store and most likely sold the whiskey to the minor, the school is overtaken by terrorists. Leading the charge is Luis Cali (Andrew Divoff) who is demanding the release of his father. They are from Colombia, so naturally, his father was sent away for being a major drug dealer. He overtakes the school because he wants to kidnap the son of the judge who is overseeing his father's trial who attends the school. However, the authorities have gotten to the kid first and took him to a safe location. While the other terrorists are "securing" the school grounds with explosives and placing men with guns at certain posts so nobody can go in or out, Headmaster Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) tells Cali that the boy he is looking for is not at the school and he doesn't know where he is. One of Cali's men finds proof the Headmaster is telling the truth. By the way, what exactly is the difference between a headmaster and a dean? 

Since Cali's initial plan doesn't go exactly as planned, he just keeps everyone hostage. He does let the faculty go, except for the Headmaster and the cooks (hey, terrorists still gotta eat!)  One faculty member is killed when he tries to escape the initial takeover. Cali and his men do a headcount of everyone for a total of 92 hostages. He tells the students they will be allowed to go out in the courtyard, but they need to be in the dining hall every hour on the hour so he can do a headcount and make sure everyone is accounted for. He threatens that if one person is missing, then five people will be shot and if two people are missing, ten will be shot. This guy is one of the most lenient terrorists I have ever seen. If I was ever taken hostage by a terrorist, I'd want it to be this guy. Let me tell you why:

Is anyone else getting a LotR
vibe from this scene? 
Billy and his group of friends (which also include Wil Wheaton and Adventures in Baby-Sitting's Keith Coogan) decide they're going to do something about the situation and gather as much intel as the terrorists as they can. They learn how many men there are, where they're stationed, and what kind of weapons they have. They write all this information down in a notebook. While one kid is doing their research, he's paired with a buddy who can give him a signal (like coughing) if a terrorists comes to close and might see the notebook so they just quickly turn the page and act like they're drawing or working on a school assignment. Once they have all the info they need, they have an elaborate plan for Billy to escape, deliver the notes to the FBI, then return all within the hour. To do this, Billy breaks the window to unlock a door that is hidden from view from the terrorists. This is to be timed with one of his friends kicking a soccer ball and breaking a window. He runs through the school and escapes through a window at the front of the school. He hides behind a car and waits for his friends to distract the two guys on the roof with a remote control airplane. Amazingly this works and Billy is able to run across the lawn. If the terrorists had turned around, they would have plainly seen a kid running away! Cali takes over the toy plane and radios the two men on the roof to tell them to keep an extra eye out on things. When they turn around, Billy is no longer in sight. I have no idea how he knew where the FBI team would be, but as he's running through the woods, he's caught by them and patted down. He tells them he escaped from the school and gives them his notes. They want to keep him but he pleads for them to let him go back, but they refuse. He talks with Dean Parker who is also there and tells them he needs to go back or people will be killed and the dean tells the officer to let him.

Meanwhile back at the school, his friends are looking very worried because there's only one minute left before the headcount begins and there is no sign of Billy. Even though he has taken one of the Jeeps from the FBI to make up for time, he is still running quite late. He runs through an underground tunnel that has water running through it and gets soaked in the process. This time he manages to escape the eyes of the men on the roof when Coogan leaves a cigarette burning by a smoke detector and the fire alarm goes off and they go inside to investigate it. While entering through the window, Billy takes off his clothes. He grabs a towel and apologizes for being late, that he didn't hear the bell signaling it was time for the headcount.

Okay, so the reason why Cali is the ideal terrorists to be held hostage by is because he did the headcount at least four times! Most terrorists would only count once, then kill the five people without a second thought. After the fourth count, he does begin to randomly pick five people, including the Headmaster, to be killed, but luckily Billy comes in then and nobody is killed much to everyone's relief. Billy, however, is severely punished with a whipping. 

Cali decides to let Wil Wheaton's character, Joey Trotta go because he respects his dad because he's a New York mafia boss. Instead of being happy about this, Joey doesn't want to leave his friends behind, but Cali has one of his men escort him off the premises. While doing this, Joey punches the man and takes his machine gun. He fires at another terrorist outside but manages not to hit him even though he must have fired 100 rounds. The terrorists kills him right in front of Billy's friends and classmates. Oddly enough none of the terrorists take the gun that Joey was holding until AFTER Billy and the others have run up to his body. Either they didn't see the gun or didn't take it because they knew they would be shot.

Billy and the others come up with a new plan. Cali is wearing a device around his wrist, that, if he pushed the button, will detonate the entire school. It is a last resort measure he plans to take should anyone from the outside try to come in and rescue the boys. Billy wants to switch the chip that's in the bomb located in the Headmaster's office with the chip of the confiscated toy airplane that is also now in the Headmaster's office. To do this he needs the help of a younger boy who can tell him how to switch the chips. They crawl through a vent from the bathroom to the Headmaster's office. To distract the terrorists, Coogan has an asthma attack that lasts exactly the amount of time that is needed for Billy to switch the chips. These terrorists are so dumb because they don't even give it a second thought that they might be getting duped here. And why do they need all of them hovering over him?

Billy manages to switch the chips with a few uncertainties since there's no red chip like the younger kid said there was going to be, but it was the blue chip and nothing explodes. They make their way back to the bathroom through the tunnel. Their signal is if there's running water, then it is safe to come down. However, a terrorist came in to use the bathroom while a kid was posted at the sink. He makes the kid leave and while the terrorist is washing his hands, Billy and the other kid think it's safe to come down. Luckily the kid who was posted at the bathroom sinks told one of Billy's friends a terrorists was in the bathroom and he comes in to knock the terrorists out and Billy and the kid manage to get the gun away from him.  

Meanwhile, somehow, the FBI have also planned their attack accordingly even though they have no way of knowing from the inside that Billy had switched the detonator's chip. Cali has captured Billy after he has ushered the kids into the basement. (Is it secret? Check! Is it safe? Check!) He pushes the button on his wristband, but nothing happens. Right before he is about to kill Billy with his gun, FBI agents and Dean Parker break into the office and a bullet is put through Cali's head. I should mention this movie is Rated R and does not shy away from its graphic content! 
As I mentioned before, I've seen this movie several times. The first time I saw it must have been in the mid '90s when my brother rented it. I watched some of it with him, then watched it later. It's one of those movies most people don't know exist so you should definitely give it a watch if you're not familiar with it.

Oh, and if for some reason you're not familiar with the Martika song of the same name, you must listen to it:

Sunday, May 8, 2016

While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping
Director: Jon Turtletaub
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallager, Peter Boyle
Released: April 21, 1995

I must say I'm surprised this movie came out in April since it's set during Christmas. The movie is saturated in its Christmas-ness. In fact, I had totally forgotten that little fact or else I would have reviewed this around the holiday season as I always feel weird watching a Christmas movie in a month other than November or December. It just seems so unnatural!

This movie is about a woman named Lucy (Sandra Bullock) who works as a ticket taker at a subway station in Chicago and she is totally smitten with a man (Peter Gallager) she sees everyday who comes through the line to get a token. Besides the occasional, "hi", Lucy has never spoken to him. On Christmas Day he buys a token and says, "Merry Christmas" and after stumbling for something to say he walks off and she chastises herself for not thinking of something intelligent (or at least incoherent) to say. After she sees he has fallen into the tracks after two guys have tried to rob him (though they don't take anything; I never did understand what exactly was going on), she runs to help him up, but he's knocked out so she has to roll him away from the oncoming subway. She takes him to the hospital and there's a HUGE misunderstanding because a nurse hears Lucy mutter under her breath, "That's the man I'm going to marry someday" while looking longingly at the man in a coma. His name is Peter and his family has come to see him when they get the news. The nurse tells them that Lucy is his fiancee and she is just as surprised as they are. Later, she asks the nurse why she told them she was the fiancee and the nurse tells her what she overheard her say to herself. While his family (his parents (his father is played by Peter Boyle), his sister (she's played by the girl who would later go on to play Abby Morgan in Dawson's Creek), his grandmother, and his godfather) are all shocked about this and wonder why Peter never told them he was engaged. Lucy does try to tell them this is all a big misunderstanding, but she is not assertive enough and they aren't even paying to attention to her. I feel like if you were put in this situation, you would need to squash it like a bug ASAP! But she lets it go on far longer than it should have.

The family hails her as a hero after they learn that she saved Peter's life when she jumped in the track and moved him away from the approaching subway. Even though she does want to tell them the truth, she finds out Peter's grandmother has a heart condition and it would (literally, apparently) kill her if this wonderful girl she just met wasn't actually her grandson's soon-to-be bride. So as you can see, Lucy is in a bit of a pickle. They invite her to spend Christmas with them (since they missed celebrating on the actual day what with all the commotion of having Peter in the hospital), but she politely declines and they give her their address just in case she changes her mind. After trying to eat a TV dinner alone (and dipping her Oreos in her cat's milk...while a very amusing scene, it's so stupid because every cat owner knows you give your cat WATER to drink, not freaking milk!) she decides to give in and join them for their Christmas celebration so she doesn't feel as pathetic as she thinks she is. She finds herself really liking this family and they have already accepted her as one of their own, even giving her a Christmas gift.

This is when she meets Jack (Bill Pullman), Peter's younger brother. He is very suspicious of this woman who is suppose to be Peter's new fiancee because not too long ago Peter had a girlfriend, Ashely who he asked to marry, but she declined. However, she must have changed her mind because Peter keeps getting voice mail messages from her saying she has decided to marry him after all. She doesn't know he's in a coma and keeps wondering why he won't return her calls.

The only person who knows the truth about Lucy is Saul, Peter's godfather. He overheard her talking to Peter about the situation she was in. He tells her he will not snitch her out because he feels the family meeting Lucy has brought them closer together. As you can imagine, Lucy and Jack spend a lot of time together and begin to have feelings for each other. Lucy can't act on these feelings as she's supposed to be his brother's fiancee. Somehow she is able to keep the charade up. After a few weeks, Peter finally wakes up and his family calls Lucy so she can see him. Needless to say she is very hesitant about this, but what other choice does she have than to not go? There's a very funny scene when the camera is panning from face to face so we're seeing all of Peter's loved ones through his eyes. He sees his father, mother, sister, godfather, some woman he doesn't know, his grandmother. And right when the camera pans over to his grandmother, it quickly pans back to Lucy. His family thinks he must have suffered from amnesia since he can't remember his fiancee at all. Saul even convinces Peter he should propose to her "again" because he'll never meet a woman like her again. I found this very weird because why would you want to marry someone you don't even know? Lucy wants Saul to tell the family the truth since she thinks it will be a softer blow coming from him. However, every time she thinks he's going to do it, he chickens out.

Peter becomes convinced that he must have been engaged to this beautiful, charming woman so he trusts his godfather and proposes to her. I think Saul only told him to do that because he didn't want to tell the family the truth about Lucy. Of course, Ashely comes back to town and is livid when she finds out that Peter has new fiancee. Right before the wedding, Lucy confesses to everyone that she was never Peter's fiancee and tells them how they really met. However, she does say that she's in love with Jack so she does get to stay part of the family since Jack soon proposes to her.

Fittingly, the movie ends with Peter asking Lucy when she fell in love with his brother and she replies, "While you were sleeping."

I read that initially the gender roles were swapped where it was going to be the woman in a coma and the guy pretending to be her fiance, but that was thought to be too predatory (which, yeah, I can see) so they switched the roles.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My favorite PC/Video games

 I made a video of my 5 favorite PC/Video games (the majority of which are from when I was a kid):

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bon Appetit

The Silence of the Lambs
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
Released: February 14, 1991

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Jonathan Demme (won)
Best Actress - Jodie Foster (won)
Best Actor - Anthony Hopkins (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Ted Tally (won)
Best Sound (lost to Terminator 2)
Best Film Editing (lost to JFK)

I have a book (a tome, rather) called 85 Years of the Oscar by Robert Osborne and it details all the stats of the Oscars from the beginning to the 2012 Oscars in 2013. (A new, updated version comes out every 5 years, so there will be a new one in 2018). Since Silence of the Lambs was a big Oscar winner for the '92 Oscar ceremony, I knew I would find some interesting facts about it and that I did. It is the first psychological thriller to win Best Picture. It is the third movie ever in Oscar history to win five major Oscars which includes Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay. The previous two movies to do that were It Happened One Night in 1934 and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975.  I don't know if it's happened since...I'm too lazy to research that! It's also the first movie to be out on video at the time it won as it had a very early release date of February 14, nearly a year before the Oscars that would take place on March 30, 1992. By the way, I want to know who decided to release this on Valentine's Day of all's not exactly a date movie! Most Oscar winners tend to get a late November or December release. I do know it's happened since because I remember Crash (ugh) had a very early spring release before it won. At just about twenty minutes of screen time, Anthony Hopkins is a Best Actor winner with one of the shortest amounts of time he actually appears on screen. I am a little surprised they didn't have him in the Best Supporting Actor category because he's more of a supporting character than lead.

Supposedly this movie is a sequel (!!) to a film called Manhunter, which I've never heard of. It came out in 1986, also based on a book by Thomas Harris and stars Brian Cox as Hannibal. Needless to say, it didn't do very well at the box office and didn't have the cultural impact that Silence of the Lambs had. I think most people either don't know about Manhunter or have forgotten about it, so I feel like SotL is more of a stand alone movie and people don't think of it as a sequel or even a reboot. This was a complete shock to me because I had no idea another actor had played Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter before Anthony Hopkins, but obviously, he was the actor to make that role iconic. 

Even to people who have never seen this movie, I'm sure they are familiar with the names Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter; they know exactly what someone is talking about when they mention "fava beans and a nice Chianti"; and they can utter, "Hello, Clarice" just as creepily as Anthony Hopkins does. (Although the line is actually, "Good evening, Clarice.") I actually kept waiting for Anthony Hopkins to say that line but he never did and I read that "Good evening, Clarice" often gets mistaken for "Hello, Clarice."

Believe it or not, this was my first time seeing this movie. And if you know me, you would believe it because I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to scary movies. But luckily this movie is more of a psychological thriller than a horror (and I wouldn't classify this as a horror) and I can handle those. This movie didn't scare me AS MUCH as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it was very disturbing, unsettling, and creepy, but I kept expecting the jump scares to come and there were plenty of opportunities for them to happen, but they never did. I know this is based on a book, but I have never read it. However in the past 25 years since this movie's been out, I have known some of the things that happen in the movie!

It's not difficult to see why Jodie Foster won the Best Actress Oscar. She is really good as FBI-agent-in-training Clarice Starling. She is selected by her boss (Scott Glenn) to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter aka "Hannibal the Cannibal" (Anthony Hopkins) because they think he could be helpful in helping them catch another serial killer, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). Dr. Lecter, after all, if a former psychiatrist and a serial killer who ate his victims. Before going in to talk to him, she is told by that facility's psychologist that they have him in solidarity confinement at all times and he is never allowed to come out of his cell unless he is completely confined and tells her how one time when he was in the hospital, he managed to wake up from his drugs and bite off a nurses's nose. While the other inmates are behind bars, Hannibal is behind glass that have a few holes in them so he can smell the lotion Clarice is wearing. Compared to the other men in the prison, Dr. Lecter is actually very polite and courteous, you know for a flesh-eating serial killer! At least he wasn't masturbating and fling, ahem, himself at her.....ewww! That really happened after she talked to him and was walking out. I audibly freaked out at the scene because I do not like bodily fluids...ewww, ughgghghg! Gag! Hopkins has a very unsettling way of never blinking.

Buffalo Bill tends to go for overweight girls in their twenties who he skins after he kills them because he wants to make himself a "woman suit".  So he and Cruella DeVil have some things in common! He wants to get a sex change to become a woman but has failed the psychological tests to do so. So far he has killed at least six women and Clarice is called in to look at the latest body that was found in a lake in West Virginia. Lodged in the girl's throat is a cocoon which Clarice takes to an entomologist who tells her it's a moth that's indigenous to Asia only and that someone must have bred this particular one. I have always noticed the creepy moth on the movie poster, but never knew how they intertwined with the plot. When we see Buffalo Bill's house, or lair, rather, he has a cage with the large, creepy moths and as someone who hates just regular moths, this is enough to make your skin crawl because these moths are at least three times bigger and some are flying out in the open by the lightbulbs. Ugh!! I also learn where the movie gets its title when Dr. Lecter, wanting to know more about Clarice, asks her about a traumatic childhood memory and she recounts to him a story of how she once woke up on her relatives' farm to hear the screaming of lambs who were being slaughtered. She tried to save one and ran away with it, but it was too heavy and she was caught and the lamb was brought back to the slaughterhouse. At the end of the movie, Hannibal will ask her if the lambs have stopped screaming.

Hannibal has told Clarice he will only cooperate with her if she can move him to a facility with a window so he can look outside since he's been trapped in his cell for eight years. She manages to put something together for him (though it's a lie) and demands to know information about Buffalo Bill such as a real name, address, and physical appearance. This time he has kidnapped a young woman named Catherine who is the daughter of a U.S. Senate. I'll tell you one thing: if I ever see someone struggling to move a couch into a van, I am never, EVER going to help them! Especially if they have a broken arm! I know this may sound horrible of me, but this is how this girl got captured! She was walking to her apartment and went past Buffalo Bill who was "struggling" to move a couch into a van with a cast on his arm and she decides to be nice and help him. When she has her side of the couch, he has her step into the van and then she can't move because the couch is blocking her way out and he knocks her out and thus kidnaps her.

He has her in his creepy lair, in a well where he lowers down lotion so she can rub it on herself. He has an unsettling way of referring to his kidnap/murder victims as "it" so he doesn't have to think of them as real people. ("It will put the lotion in the basket!") He has a little white dog named Precious and Catherine kidnaps (dognaps?) the dog by luring it over to the edge. We don't actually see the dog jump/fall into the pit, so I'm not sure how that happened, but she now has Buffalo Bill's Precious (I would have laughed so hard if he cried, "My Precioussssssss!" but that does not happen). She tells him the dog needs a vet because she broke her leg as a result of the fall and that he better send down a phone or else she's not releasing the dog. A very upset Buffalo Bill goes to get his gun. 

We get the old bait and switch when we see Clarice outside the house which she thinks is the address of someone who can give her information while we see other agents outside the house which they believe to be Buffalo Bill's and have it surrounded. When they enter the house, they find it empty and nobody is there...but Clarice has walked right into it. Luckily, she's smart and immediately can tell from the sewing machine and thread, oh, and not to mention the random creepy moth, that this is Buffalo Bill's house and she pulls out her gun and tells him to freeze, but he runs away. She finds Catherine who's screaming (and Precious who's barking) in the dungeon room and tells her that the other agents are on their way. Uh...I don't think they are because she hasn't called for back up! There are a few rooms connected to the dungeon room so she checks them all and they're all empty. There's only one room left she hasn't checked and it's the room where all the creepy moths are in. This was the creepiest scene in the whole movie because while Clarice is looking for Buffalo Bill, he turns the lights off so it is PITCH BLACK and he puts on night-vision goggles so we can see Clarice through his POV. Jodie Foster is fantastic in this scene. We see the fear on her face as she's feeling around to get a sense of her surroundings and to get the hell out of there! At one point, she touches a hot vent or something, then another time she trips over something and falls. But the scariest part is when Buffalo Bill is literally right in front of her face and we see his hand reach out to -almost- touch her face - ahhh!!! - and she seems to sense that something is close to her, but he never touches her. Just when she turns around and her back is to him, he lifts his gun and she hears the clicking sound it makes and turns around just in time to shoot and kill him. Very scary, intense scene!

Hannibal, meanwhile, has been moved to a different location and they have him in a mask and his arms are bound and he's being wheeled as well since his legs are also bound. However, for some reason, he manages to steal a pen that the psychologist left lying nearby. I have no idea how this happened because when he sees the pen just laying there, he's already bound. I thought maybe they would go back and show us how he managed to grab this pen with his arms constricted to a straight jacket, but we never see this amazing feat! Hannibal only uses the ink portion when two police men bring his dinner (very rare lamb, what a jerk! Good thing Clarice wasn't there to see it) and they handcuff him to the bars as they bring the food in and sit it down. This time his cage is in the middle of a room and it's all bars, no glass. He picks the handcuffs with the pen part and kills one of the officer and smashes the other's head with a crowbar and escapes. There's a big search for the serial killer (naturally). He fools the officers by cutting off the face of one of the officers and putting it over his own face so they send who they think is the officer in an ambulance, but surprise, it's Hannibal and he makes his escape. Not really sure how they got fooled by that.

At the end of the movie, Clarice gets a phone call from Hannibal who is now in some tropical island. He tells her he won't be on the phone for long because he doesn't want to be traced, but just wanted to tell her that he doesn't have any plans to pursue her and hopes she extends the courtesy to him which says she cannot do. He then tells her he has to run because he's "having a friend for dinner." I'm surprised he didn't add, "Literally!" As he says this, we see him eyeing the psychologist from his original holding place who he never liked very much. Oh, dear. Good thing he at least had some respect for Clarice.

As with 1999, I have now reviewed all the movies from 1991 that won Oscars in the "big 8" categories - Best Picture, Best Director, the four acting categories, and the two screenplays. Obviously, this movie knocked five of those out so that helped tremendously! I also recently reviewed The Fisher King to cover Best Supporting Actress and City Slickers to cover Best Supporting Actor. And quite a few years ago, I reviewed Thelma and Louise which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. I wonder what year I will complete next? 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Forgive Me

The Fisher King
Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer
Released: September 27, 1991

Oscar nominations:
Best Actor - Robin Williams (lost to Anthony Hopkins for The Silence of the Lambs)
Best Supporting Actress - Mercedes Ruehl (won)
Best Original Screenplay - Richard LaGravenese (lost to Callie Khouri for Thelma and Louise)
Best Art Direction/Set Direction (lost to Bugsy)
Best Original Score - George Fenton (lost to Alan Menken for Beauty and the Beast)

The only thing I knew about this movie before watching it was that it starred Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams and was directed by Terry Gilliam. Knowing that, I knew I was in for an unusual movie since the (few) Terry Gilliam movies I've seen tend to be on the eccentric side. The Fisher King was no exception; it was a very odd movie. It's not quite all set in fantasy, but it's not all set in reality, either. The movie starts fairly normally. Jeff Bridges plays Jack Lucas, a radio personality who was clearly modeled after Howard Stern. He is very crude and arrogant and tells it like it is, with his catchphrase being, "Forgive me!" Inadvertently, he is responsible for the murder of seven people at an upscale restaurant in Manhattan when he tells a recurring caller that he will never be good enough to be seen with the yuppies who frequent it. When he sees this on the news, he knows it is the same guy who he told this to because they play the transcript of the conversation he had with him on the radio. This sends Jack into a spiral of depression and things haven't gotten any better three years later when the movie takes a time leap.

He has since quit his job at the radio station (I thought maybe he was fired, but I think he just quit as he does get an offer later in the movie to go back to work) and now works at a video rental store called Video Spot! (complete with the exclamation point) with his girlfriend, Ann (Mercedes Ruehl). Ah, remember the video rental places such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video? I still go to a local "video" rental place, but it's all DVDs....I remember when these places only had the video tapes like they do in this movie. The world was a very dark and dour time before DVDs and instant streaming were invented. Jack, still depressed and on the bottle a little too much decides to end it one night when he goes to kill himself by jumping into the river after a drunken binge, but is stopped by two thugs who think he's homeless and aren't happy he's in their territory, so they throw gasoline on him. This is when Jack meets Parry (Robin Williams), a true homeless man who, along with his other homeless friends, attack the two young thugs (and also treat them to an impromptu Broadway show by singing, "I like New York in June, how about you?") It is a very odd scene to say the least. Parry manages to scare the two thugs away and Jack sleeps off his drunken state in the basement of an old building where Parry crashes. It is clear that Parry is mentally unstable and Jack just wants to get out of these. On the way out, the landlord tells him that Parry isn't allowed to have visitors and lets him stay in the basement out of the goodness of his heart because of the tragedy. Jack queries about that and learns that Parry lost his wife in the restaurant where the massacre happened three years ago. He immediately feels guilty and wonders, why, out of all the people in New York, he had to meet a man whose wife he had inadvertently killed.

When Jack returns home, his girlfriends asks where he was all night, thinking he was cheating on her. He tells her pretty much the whole truth, saying he was attacked, but leaves out the part where he was about to commit suicide before he was attacked. Ann tells him that if he's not happy with her, he doesn't have to douse himself with gasoline and beat himself up just to get away from her.

Parry is on a mission to find the Holy Grail, which he believes to be housed in a castle-like residence and wants Jack to help him get it. Feeling guilty and responsible for Parry's life, Jack decides to help him. He also learns that Parry used to be a college professor named Henry Sagan and after his wife was murdered right in front of him (of which we see the flashback of and it is an especially brutal scene), he went into a catatonic state. When he woke up, he became the alter ego of Parry and became obsessed with finding the Holy Grail and with the story of the Fisher King. Jack decides not to only help Parry with this, but with also helping Parry get the attention of a woman he's smitten with (Amanda Plummer). Parry knows everything about her because he follows her every day (which is a little creepy). There's one particularly funny scene that made me laugh out loud when the woman is eating at a Chinese restaurant and Parry takes Jack right up to the window where a couple are dining next to inside and keep looking at the two grown men right by the window looking in and Jack yells at them, "Yes, we're looking through the window!" There's also a scene, which I'm sure has to be the most famous from the movie, where Parry is following her in Grand Central Station and then everybody starts waltzing and the train station becomes a grand ballroom. Jack learns that her name is Lydia and finds out where she works and calls her with the disguise that she's won a free membership at the Video Spot! store. He pretends to have Parry working there so he can meet her when she comes in.

The four main characters end up having dinner at a Chinese restaurant (since Parry knows Lydia likes Chinese food) and this is my favorite scene in the movie. It's a bit of a montage where we see Lydia, who is a complete klutz, drop her food, nearly knock over everyone's food and just has about near disasters as the others are trying to keep her from causing any more damage. Ann confides in Jack that Parry and Lydia are perfect for each other and she is right because Lydia is quite quirky herself, an oddball like Parry. They are both so socially awkward, that they really are perfect for each other.

Parry slips back into his catatonic state after he walks past the restaurant where his wife was murdered and has a horrible flashback. Jack thinks the only thing that will snap him out of this will be to retrieve the Holy Grail that Parry has been obsessed over.

It is a very odd, quirky movie, but of all the (few) Terry Gilliam movies I've seen, I would say it's my favorite movie of his, but like I said, I haven't seen that many movies he's directed because the movies he makes aren't really my taste. Since Mercedes Ruehl won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this, I wanted to watch this for my ten movie review of 1991. Speaking of which, we're almost to the end! So far, I've reviewed:
1. Hook
2. Boyz n the Hood
3. My Girl
4. Backdraft
5. Father of the Bride
6. Sleeping with the Enemy
7. City Slickers
8. Point Break
9. The Fisher King

I have only one left and I think we all know what movie that's going to be! There were a lot of '91 movies I could have chosen, so I will just have to review those movies later; just because I did a special dedication to that year doesn't mean that all movies from 1991 are off the (review) table forever!