Tag Archives: blogging

“This whole movie is stuff that I said to him!”

One of Hollywood’s many under-appreciated  actors is in one of my favorite underrated dramadies of all time.

I remember watching “The Hard Way” for the first time with one of my best friends.  He was always a good sport.  He would see movies well before I ever could and he never cared when I asked him to watch them over again with me at my house on VHS.

I think he enjoyed watching my reaction to fresh movies as much he enjoyed watching a movie himself for the first time.

I remember when we were at the video rental store (yes, VHS…get over it) and I had asked him if he’d seen it–picking up the empty case.

“Yes,” he said.  “Michael J. Fox plays Harrison Ford in it.”

*Eyebrow raised.  Jaw slightly dropped.*

“I know,” he said to me.  “It’ll make sense when we watch it.”

And that we did…

Mr. Fox actually plays Nick Lang–a Hollywood action movie star that is looking for a “real” role of a “real person.”  Something with substance.

Enter James Woods (Mr. Under-appreciated) as John Moss–one stern cop that will be tasked with having the spoiled Hollywood actor shadow him for research.

M8DHAWA EC001

Moss is all business–tough, smart, focused, and he has a bit of a mean streak in him after working so many years “on the street.”

I remember watching the trailers for Nick Lang’s movies within the storyline of “The Hard Way.”  I know that they were meant to be heavy on the satire…Michael J. is perfect in a role like that.  His charisma in a comedy when quirks are required is unmatched.  His performance in the trailers are campy, but we buy it because it’s Michael J. after all.

Nick lang

Over the years I have learned to enjoy many of the performances of James Woods.  He is such an interesting actor.  He has the presence to play a leading man and even carry a movie (such as this), but he is great as a character actor as well.

As you can imagine, Moss is very resistant to taking on Lang as his shadow.  Lang is naive to Moss’s detest for him.  I mean, he’s a famous Hollywood actor…who wouldn’t be flattered to have him follow them around all day.  What an honor

Lang’s happy-go-lucky is a great foil to Moss’s cranky old cynicism.

The movie isn’t just another “buddy cop” movie (trust me, I use that phrase lightly).  There is a murderer that Moss has been after for some time.  We get to meet Moss’s love interest and see how she interacts with Lang…I think you’ll be surprised.

Lang’s journey is a real one.  There are real threats, lessons learned, and growth on both sides of the relationship.

I remember feeling like I had seen a very Great! story unfold in front of me.  The film was much better than I expected and I am so thankful that I had a friend that refused to spoil it for me.

…so you know now…

…there’s no way I’ll spoil it for you…go see it…totally worth your time…

 

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“When you use more than 5 percent of your brain, you don’t want to be on earth; believe me.”

I was raised in a very small town in Southeastern Idaho.  Quite conservative as you might imagine.  I was raised Lutheran, but my mother’s background was baptist.  She was very serious about our faith and we were the most faithful damn Lutheran’s in Blackfoot, ID goddammit!

Anyways….

There was heaven, where everyone wants to end up…and hell of course.  I noticed that we always talked an awful lot more about hell.  Probably because nobody knows shit about heaven, but we can all agree that having our souls burnt for eternity for turning our backs to God is quite a motivator…especially to four year olds.  Just sayin’.

Believing that there were any other options for the afterlife was not…well, an option; under our roof any way.

When I got into college, I found that I tested my limits.  Not only with my faith, but with my ability to stay awake at night, and to explore different kinds of movies.  The one that I  found very interesting, and understood why my mother never let me watch it, was “Defending Your Life.”

Late one weekend night when I couldn’t sleep, I turned on the TV in my apartment and flipped through the channels (there were 5 options).  *Commercial, commercial, late night movie…Oh, Meryl, and the guy from “Broadcast News.”*  

I loved the simplicity.  Everyone was in white robes, unless they were an attorney.  The dialogue was great and witty, and I can’t imagine two better actors than Albert Brooks and the Meryl Streep to take on this material. Rip Torn is also fantastic as the man that is tasked with advising Daniel Miller (Brooks) through the defense of his life.

albert court

Basically, Daniel winds up dead and before he can get into heaven, he has to go through a “trial” of sorts.  If you can prove that you truly lived your life without fear, you are worthy of getting in.  The court has every second of your life recorded, including your inner thoughts.  When they show Daniel’s pep talk regarding his salary requirements and the “actual” salary that he sufficed with; lets agree it’s a good laugh.  Being that you may not have lived your “given” life without fear, you would then be sent back to live another life.  Each time you have to defend it.

This would be about where my mother would FREAK!

“What? No! There is heaven and hell.”

End a story.

Right.  Well, this is a movie and I find it entertaining.  I find it to be a creative love story that happens to have a lot of laughs.  I also found the “world” creative and inspired.  You can’t just die and go to heaven.  There is a stop off at a way station where decisions will be made as to your worthiness.

Fair enough, I say, and definitely worthy of a watch.

 

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“Killed anyone today? – The day ain’t over yet…”

I had no idea who Jack Palance was.

What started out as another simple Billy Crystal comedy became something with a bigger heart than most.  It almost lost me in the first fifteen, and then we met Curly.

He had presence like “The Duke” in all those movies I grew up watching.  He walked on screen and every character knew to stay on his good side…behind him.

I remember watching and laughing with my mother and father.

The premise is about a trio of late-thirty-somethings that take Man-cation adventures together once a year.  They start running from the bulls.  The majority of the story takes place on their latest venture, a cattle drive across the the plains of the American West.

My dad kept saying, “That rancher’s a genius.  He got those idiots to pay him to drive his cattle for him.”

idiots

Yes, that’s what my father took away from that movie…and he was right.

The movie has a multitude of great laughs.  There’s some slapstick, there’s some sarcasm (it is a Billy Crystal movie after all), and there is plenty of great one liners.  Palance steals the show and has three great ones.

I found that the majority of the greatness of the movie was the writing of the conversations that were had between the three men: Crystal, Bruno Kirby, and Daniel Stern.  The chemistry between these three men was fantastic and it felt like they were truly friends for the last twenty years.  They rib each other, they know each other’s tendencies, and in the end, they are always there for each other as best friends–that are like brothers–are.

I remember feeling that the movie was going to be pretty predictable, and for the most part it is, but they did manage to throw some curve balls along the way, some of them quite tragic…not “sad” tragic, but tragic in the sense that, “Damn, that was short…I can’t laugh at him anymore.”

I wanted to find more Palance movies.  My mom and dad seemed to know who he was.  I remember my mom telling me that he was known for being a villain.  He appeared to have a bit of villainess in him on the surface for Curly, but in the end, he was just a good “man’s man” that wanted to help people become better at driving cattle.

There is no profound ending and there is some “campy action” that seems out of place for plot-device-sake, but the earlier comedy and interactions make up for it.  If you need a good laugh and you don’t want to spend too much time delving into and analyzing what the auteur was trying to say, try out “The City Slickers.”

The early 90s were known for making a bunch of films with a good laugh.

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“I’m having a thought. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I’m gonna have a thought. It’s coming… It’s gone.”

I have a confession.  I think the Oscars are bullshit and they were put on this earth for two reasons.  One, to make really rich people feel like they’ve accomplished even more in their lives. Two, to ignite a fire of rage and debate in all of us.

I used to think the Academy Awards meant something.  I mean, it was peers determining which of them had the best performance, directing, writing, picture, etc.  They should know, right?  They’re the professionals.  Then you go back and look at the past winners over time and realize that the “true” winners with lasting power were never picked.

I ramble on…

1990 was an amazing year for film:

Goodfellas” (I’ll get to this one down the road…)

Home Alone” (Thank you John Hughes)

Edward Scissorhands

Pretty Woman

Awakenings

Misery

Ghost

Lord of the Flies

Miller’s Crossing

I didn’t even list the ones I’ve already written about.  Trust me, there are plenty.  But…some things I cannot understand.  How did “Dick Tracy” get left out of the best picture mix…?  How did Al Pacino win for “Scent of a Woman,” but get stiffed for his role as Big Boy Caprice in “Dick Tracy?”  Rhetorical really…but I continue to ponder…

To my mind, “Dick Tracy” is the most underrated “comic book” movie of all time.  I did not say it was the best.  I said it was the most underrated.  You know, the one that is G-R-E-A-T great, but you always forget about it when you are thinking about Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spiderman, Iron Man, etc.

Warren Beatty’s vision was a marvel (pun/jab intended) and deserves all the credit that has been thrown it’s way–and more–over the years.

It was visually stunning (throughout every frame).  It was perfectly cast, had a great script, and stayed true to the source material.  I don’t know if it is true, but in my mind, I like to believe that when Warren was a child he grew up reading Dick Tracy just like I grew up reading about Wolverine and Gambit.  He had to.  The attention to detail was incredible.  The lighting, the costumes, the makeup, the sets, the props…it truly was a world that existed in the pictures of a comic book.

The characters were all larger than life and the photos I’ve added don’t display a quarter of all of the great ones.

“Dick Tracy” was a tricky movie for my mom.  It was rated PG.  I was old enough to watch it.  I had seen way worse in terms of violence and gore at that point in my life…but this picture had one thing in it that my mother had a hard time with.

MADONNA

Yes.  My mother is not a fan of Madonna.  She was a very “controversial” figure in the 80s. I grew up in a small conservative town…Madonna wasn’t very popular to anyone over 30 in  Blackfoot, ID in 1990.  She was skeptical and encouraged me not to watch it, but she relented.  She, however, refused to watch it with me.

Her loss.

Forget about the technical aspects.  We all know the makeup, costumes, lighting, sets, etc. were amazing.  The performance by Al Pacino is the glue that keeps this picture rolling.  Has there ever been a character that is so dangerous in one second and hilarious in the next?  He boogied with Madonna as Breathless Mahoney, which is meant to be a funny scene…but as you watch the scene unfold, you know that Big Boy Caprice is unpredictable and could snap and break her neck for singing out of key if he felt like it.

There is drama, suspense, humor, action, and a little romance too.  I feel that it is a movie that deserves to be in my top 10 list, but I never count it among those.  It’s probably that guilt from enjoying a movie so much that I know my mother didn’t want me to ever see.

Totally worth it…

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“My 350-pound babysitter would be chasing me for the half-eaten pastrami sandwich I stole from her.”

For those of you that have been loyal readers over the years, you’re aware that I like to talk about firsts.

Flatliners” was the first movie in which I invited upperclassmen friends over to watch at my house.  I was a soccer player my entire life.  I was fortunate enough to make the varsity soccer team as a freshman.  I became friends with a lot of people older than me because of that.  I had many birthday parties to this point in which I invited a lot of my friends over, but they were always my age or younger.  These were older guys that I really wanted to impress with my movie taste.

I was someone that had already seen the film and enjoyed it.  My “older” friends had not.  I brought them over to meet my family, drink Mountain Dew, and watch it on VHS.

I know:  “Flatliners?”

You might ask that, but at the time it was kind of the perfect movie.  Interesting, suspenseful, not too scary but scary enough, and there was a ton of old and young talent in that film:

Julia of course (I think she was in every movie in the 90s after “Pretty Woman“), Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, William “Billy” Baldwin, and Oliver Platt.  Everyone knew Julia at the time, Kiefer was “Donald’s son,” Billy was “Alec‘s little brother” (still is, quite frankly), Kevin Bacon was…well Kevin Bacon (old, well established talent), and Oliver Platt was, “the 90s token, witty, chubby guy.”

The premise: A number of med students come up with this idea of forcing themselves into a flatline state (really, just killing each other), in which they are under for a short amount of time before being revived again.

The thing that I thought was cool about this was, in theory, you could conduct this type of experiment.  They were in a setting in which all of the necessary medical equipment was available and many people have died and been revived in such a manner.

The movement in the story comes when the members that were flatlined start to see the karma of their past looking for a paycheck in the form of the people that they had wronged.

Again, for those that have yet to see this movie, I don’t want to be the one to spoil the details.  Just know that there are moments of hilarity amidst an environment that is quite dark and disturbing.

I remember being very thankful for this movie.  It helped me show people that I knew what I was talking about when I would recommend a movie.  My friends loved it.  There were questions afterward that couldn’t be explained (I remember the director using cyclists in a number of different shots)…there was something about the sound of a group of cyclists riding in the dark of night that added to the eerie…

My friend asked me, “What’s with the cyclists?”

I remember being quick on my feet and saying, “I think it is a metaphor for his soul gradually getting away from him.”

My friend nodded his head as he looked at me like I was Buddha.

I really think the director was trying to make his own atmosphere and the cyclists happened to be pretty cool (looking and sounding)…

I’m just glad I was able to impress.

 

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“We all forget things. That’s what reminding is for.”

There was a “little” movie that you might’ve heard of in the early 90s called “Pretty Woman.”

…and a star was born.

Being a 13 year old boy, I had no interest in that film.  Mainly because at that point, my sister had a huge interest in it and I knew the kind of movies she loved when she was in high school: lame, comedy romance.  I avoided it…for a few years anyway…

Even though I had not seen it, pretty much every other person on the planet had, so there was no escaping it.  There were clips on “Entertainment Tonight,” trailers shown on every other television break, and trailers again whenever I went to a movie.  The scene that I remember is when Gere closes her hand in the jewelry box and she cries out her boisterous, yet feminine laugh.  I also remember seeing a scene of her singing in the bath tub to “Kiss” by Prince (RIP)…I remembered that because of the song.  She was America’s new sweetheart and she was not going away.

julia-kiss

Man, I sound like I wanted her to go away…I didn’t, I just wanted “Pretty Woman” to go away.  Which brings me to my very first Julia Roberts experience; and WOW-was-it unexpected.

I remember thinking that she was beautiful, yet she had this very honest, kind, and gentle quality about her.  She gave the impression that she could be talked to by anyone.  She wasn’t goofy like I had been made familiar with through all of “Pretty Woman‘s” advertising.

In “Sleeping with the Enemy,” Julia plays a very timid, kind, and gentle housewife that is the victim of an abusive husband played by Patrick Bergin in a very aggressive, haunting performance.

The great thing I remember about her performance was the fact that the audience is not witness to an actual case of physical abuse until the end of the first act; yet her unease makes us feel like Bergin is a pitbull, just waiting for a reason to lash out.  We find out that he is and before we do, we are as tense as Julia is.  That is because of Julia (although Bergin did help portraying a total psychopath).

This movie wasn’t just a basic woman escapes a monster through “the system.”  It is a clever psychological thriller that tells us what we need to know, when the writer felt we were ready to know it.

This is the part where I remind everyone that I would hate to give anything away.  Know this, the moment of truth is EXTREMELY satisfying.

Julia, like Denzel, was another “new” star, that we all wanted to see more of.  The rest of America knew that a little quicker than I did re: “Pretty Woman.” Just like I did with Denzel, I looked for prior movies and got excited for new ones with her.  I later found that Julia had already made a GREAT movie that just didn’t hit it too big unfortunately.  For those of you that have not seen “Mystic Pizza,” put it on your list.  It is a great coming-of-age story told through the eyes of teenage girls unlike any other.  Keep your eyes peeled for a very young and fresh Matt Damon.  If you blink, you’ll miss him.

She had a very minor role in “Steel Magnolias,” which I watched a number of years later as that was labeled another “sister” movie (cue gag noise). That is a sign of my immaturity, not that the film was bad.  I thoroughly enjoyed it later.

Julia made A LOT of different movies that I enjoyed over the next twenty years…but I can’t tell you all of them at once.  I have to write about something, after all.

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“I’m the Party Pooper.”

Unexpected.

Not at first.

Like most of Arnold’s films, we start out with a pretty nice action set.  He is searching for a bad man.  We’ve seen enough of his films to know that the people he’s about to interact with are in for a southern ass whoopen.  Much like the “Terminator” movies, he struts through a room of villains–very nonchalant–pulls out a shotgun and starts firing.  The difference here, he’s not seen killing anyone…huh?

He shoots up some of the room and scenery and scares a lot of shady people off and no one dies.

Weird.

Again, unexpected.  He gets ahold of one of the shady characters and interrogates him there.  He is looking for a very bad man.  There was nothing worse than a villain on film in the late 80s and early 90s in America that was a drug dealer–unless there was a film with Nazis in it.

The snitch gives up some information that helps Detective John Kimble (Arnold) track a lead down to help him find Cullen Crisp.

Kimble gets assigned a new partner, Detective Phoebe O’Hara (Pamela Reed in a very brief and underrated comedic performance).  Of course Kimble is opposed to the assignment until he learns that the undercover op is as a kindergarten teacher.

Yes, “Kindergarten Cop.”  A very quoted movie and a great family comedy.

Phoebe is to be the Kindergarten teacher for a classroom of kids that may be the son of Crisp.  The detectives believe that Crisps’ ex love interest has changed her name, fled to a small town, become a teacher, and has a son in kindergarten.

After a fit of sudden illness, Kimble has to step in for Phoebe and fill in as the new Kindergarten teacher.

What could possibly go wrong?

Not the best first day, to say the least.  A lot of chaos, yelling, and crying.

arnold-kc

The appeal to the movie is definitely not the plot–very simple and predictable–the appeal comes completely from Arnold and his persona.  I feel that it was a VERY brave decision for him to take this project on…the only other person I would probably want to see do this would be Clint Eastwood circa 1985-1989 after “Sudden Impact” but before “Dead Pool.” Those huge “manly-men” personas give this delicate comedy that human touch that it needs as a tough guy is forced to become compassionate, organized, and vulnerable.

This “bull in a China shop” has to deal with a lot of interesting personalities that are his students.  Another allure is that the kids are not just backdrop and scenery.  The writers were very skilled at giving us a lot of dynamic child characters with very little lines and screen time.  Quite a feat.

There is eventually some drama, a bit of a romance with Crisps’ ex, and a decent suspense sequence at the films climax as Crisp and his bat-shit mother step into the frame; but the draw to this movie is the comedic sequences that Arnold is put through as a large man that has to learn how to be delicate with fresh young minds.  Not to mention some comedic moments from Linda Hunt as his principal Miss Schlowski.  I don’t think it was an accident that the director chose to surround our giant with small children and a very small statured boss too.

He has to be bigger than life..so that when he does have to come down out of the clouds and relate to people, it’s both challenging and charming.


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Links for everyone.

So, I’ve made it easy for Americans to access my book.  I feel like a jerk for not including my loyal readers all over the world.  Just click on the link below and you should be redirected to the correct amazon store in your part of the world:

 

For GET BACK: rxe.me/9K35K2

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 For GROWING UP MOVIES…: rxe.me/0998113018

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Also, if you type “Clintington” into Amazon’s search bar, it’ll take you straight to my books.

Thank you all for reading.

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First…and last.

Sorry to disappoint anyone, but this is not a post on Talladega Nights.  Its just my weird way of letting you know that this will be the first and last time that I will burden any of you with the announcement of my first work of fiction being published and available on Amazon:

Yes.  The wait is over and I wanted to let all of you know that I appreciate all of the support that I have received from all of you these last two years.

You continue to read my work and engage with me on social media and it is both encouraging and flattering.

I hope that you enjoy it.  If you do or don’t, I’d love to hear about it.  Please take the time to give me an honest review on Amazon.

Once again, thank you.

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“I love you, dream woman.”

Oh, freshman year.

Acne.

Poor hygiene.

An inability to wear current fashion trends.  Yes.  I was an uncomfortable teenager.  I know…shocking, right?  I feel that the majority of us were/are.  We are/will be able to admit it 20 years later.

We all have our best friend at that time…thank you Jared.  But we have no opportunity for a social life, generally.

All of us have a refuge…mine was SNL.

Most agree that Sean Connery is the best James Bond.  He was the first. He set the standard.  He made five Bond films before another actor attempted that role and then made two more before he decided to hang it up.

Like Sean, “Blues Brothers” is the gold standard for movies made based on characters that originally aired on Saturday Night Live.  It was the first movie made based on “SNL” characters, it had a massive budget, they went all out on guest stars, car chases/crashes, sets, and musical renditions.

I’m not arguing…

This next one is a distant second…okay, for me, closer than that.

There was a time that I didn’t know who Queen was.

Wayne’s World” changed that notion.

It’s the first time I ever heard “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  I may be naive, but I thought it was a cool new song written by a hot new band that made it specifically for this movie…

…then I watched the movie with my parents (who also loved it).

I remember them talking with their friends who had watched it too.

“I loved the rocking out in the car to Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Me: You guys know the name of that song?

Parents: We had that record.

Friends (at the same time): We used to rock out to it in OUR car…8 track.

*raised eyebrow/blown mind face*

Yes, I did buy the soundtrack…on cassette. Jealous?

I had it in my car (72 Buick Century) tape deck around the clock.

1972-buick

I fell in love with Wayne and Garth on SNL.  What is a lonely male freshman to do on weekends?

Can’t drive, friends can’t drive, girls liked Juniors and Seniors (yes–THAT’s why they didn’t hang out with me–*shakes head*)…again, SNL = refuge.

When they put out a movie, I was all in.  I even went to the theater…what?

I know.

Outside of the epic soundtrack and a smoking hot Tia Carrere, there was witty dialogue, a Rob Lowe comeback, and great cameos.

tia-c

I was grateful for the laughs, the wit, and the star that was born in Mike Meyers, but I loved the music.  A huge part of the lore that was Wayne and Garth was their legitimate love for great music.  This was a part of the true core of both Meyers and Carvey (decent musicians in their own right).  Not only were they able to deliver a great interpretation of their material through an original script, they reminded a nation of 90s kids that the music of the 70s was more than valid.

Always remember, “No Stairway…denied.”

Advice that’ll save you a lot of money if you try to use that song on your next movie.

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