Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Good Morning Vietnam! (1987)

Category: War

Quote: “Good Morning Vietnam!”

As I write this at my dining room table, I look into the backyard and...it’s raining.  Like, really raining.  The type of rainy day that all you want to do is stay in bed, cuddle with the kids (or in my case, the totally awesome talking Minion Dave that Mr. T gave me for my birthday last week) and watch movies ALL day.  The current weather is nothing like what Vietnam experiences during the rainy season, but still...it’s a great setting to review Good Morning Vietnam!.

The movie is (obviously) set during the Vietnam War, and centers around Airman Adrian Cronaur (Williams) who arrives in Saigon from Greece to work as a DJ for the Arm Forces Radio Service.  Let’s just make a note here that Forrest Whitaker, who plays a young private, is SO young in this movie!  Of course, Williams style of comedy that he brings to the airwaves to entertain the troops puts him in direct conflict with his superiors, played by Bruno Kirby and J.T. Walsh.  The movie is very loosely based on the real Adrian Cronaur, who wrote the first draft of the script (in interviews, he states that less than 50% of what he wrote actually made it into the final script).

Isn’t that always the way?  We had an amazing radio DJ at one of the local radio stations who was funny, intelligent and totally got away with a lot of stuff on air.  Then the big bosses got in the way and he was taken off...being a small city, of course the rumours started to fly about whether it was he did something on air or behind the microphone or between colleagues.

And back to the review...

Cronaur even bribes an ESL teacher to take over his class so he can meet a girl, but is thwarted by her younger brother Tuan, so Cronaur becomes friends with him instead...until Tuan turns out to be someone completely different.

Williams’ comedic genius is front and centre in this movie, not only on the airwaves, but also during his English class where he teaches the students American slang.  The character of Adrian Cronaur reminds me of the DJs in The Boat that Rocked (or Pirate Radio in North America)...brash, unconventional and rebellious.

Other than the brilliance that is Williams, the movie doesn’t do much else for me.  The boy-chases-girl storyline seemed really forced, as if they needed to have a “love” story to keep people interested.  And the scene at the movie theatre was really unnecessary.  Now, that withstanding, the bombing of the bar and the consequences that follow definitely belong -- you had to show Cronaur have somewhat of a reality check and want to share with the world that there really was a war going on, not what the censors give him to report.

Do you know (taken from www.imdb.com)...
  • The soldiers in the transport trucks that Adrian Cronauer entertains are from the U.S. Army's famed 1st Infantry Division. You can tell by their distinctive "Big Red One" shoulder patches. 
  • As Adrian chases Tuan through the alley, the background music is actually a cut from Alex North's unused score for 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • This movie was filmed in Thailand, not Vietnam. On the back cover of early copies of the film, street signs can be seen in Thai.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Men in Black (1997)

 Category: Science Fiction

Quote:  “Unlimited technology from the whole universe, and we cruise 'round in a Ford P.O.S.”

I love this movie!

There…I’m done.

Oh, I should write more you say?


Men in Black is the proof that every student, whether in elementary or high school, have known all along…teachers are really aliens, looking to live among us.  See, I had this teacher all through high school, who (I swear) was an alien.  My friend (who shall remain nameless) and I were convinced that the reason he never left his desk and always locked the classroom door when he wasn’t there was because he had a radio transmitter that allowed him to communicate with his home world. Also, the posters on the walls?  Yeah…portals to travel back…  We actually had a name for him…the Pasty-faced Leprechaun.

But I digress…

Men in Black is the super-secret organization that takes care all aliens living on planet Earth, whether it’s through relocation programs or a safe place for aliens to arrive and go through customs and of course make humans forget that the saw an alien blink both sets of eyelids.  Will Smith plays “J”, a new recruit who is partnered up with “K”, played by (apparently the very grumpy) Tommy Lee-Jones to investigate a vicious bug that has invaded earth to steal a galaxy and kill an entire civilization.

I know…awesome, right!?

Will Smith proved that he can handle being an action hero in Independence Day, and goes back to his natural comedic style as the wise-ass sidekick. That scene where he’s trying to deliver an alien baby in the back of a Buick and the mother turns into her actual self and starts to throw Smith around…priceless!

The chemistry between Smith and Jones plays on the “Odd Couple” premise – place two people with the exact opposite personalities and work ethics together. For those too young to know this reference, think Starky and Hutch...no, no...Castle and Beckett!  That’s it...the wise-cracking crazy v.s. the straight-laced no nonsense! Not only in the personality, but in their body language - Smith is constantly moving while Jones prefers to stand still - and their speaking style, where Jones is prone to two word, straight forward answers and Smith loves his long speeches.

The science is apparently pretty accurate too.  After reading the review on www.badastronomy.com, it seems the writers really took the time make sure what they were writing astronomy-wise was 99% correct.  I mean, what’s a few trillion miles between friends, right?  I recommend reading it…quite fascinating.

You also can’t help but notice the slight ribbing of the UFO/aliens community – putting out the theories that the aliens brought Velcro and liposuction to Earth (which, according to UFO conspiracy theorists, the aliens who crashed in Roswell, New Mexico actually did bring this technology) and the fact that aliens are living among us…again, refer to the beginning of this post...I swear to you, it’s all true!

Did you know that (from www.imdb.com)
  • The "known aliens" visible on the screen include Al Roker, Isaac Mizrahi, Danny DeVito, director Barry Sonnenfeld, Chloe Sonnenfeld (Barry's daughter), Sylvester Stallone, Dionne Warwick, Newt Gingrich, Anthony Robbins, George Lucas, and executive producer Steven Spielberg. 
  • To research his role, Will Smith visited an alien encounter convention in Las Vegas.
  • The MIB headquarters are located in the ventilation tower of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which connects Manhattan with Brooklyn. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Now screening...

Darn right Mr. Smith makes that suit look good! Blockbuster "Men in Black" is up next!

Stay tuned!

Mrs. T

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Category: Action/Adventure & Epic

Quote: “Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?”

Yeah man, why can’t it be puppies or those fluffy things from Star Trek?

Every summer, Mr. T and I rent a small cottage at a local beach resort where there is no Internet, no cable and every day calls for wine and beer…pure heaven.  On the one rainy night we had (I know…totally requested good weather and got it!), we plugged in the DVD player and snuggled on the couch to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.  If I had a professor like him when I went to college (again…Go Thunder!), my attendance would have been 100%.

The movie opens with our hero in South America, travelling to a lost temple with local guides to retrieve a golden idol.  Fortunately, Jones avoids the many booby traps in the temple to retrieve the idol only to be betrayed by the guides and he has to hand over the idol to his rival, Dr. Rene Belloq.

Total side note, but Mr. T informs me that the guy who plays Sapito, the South American who betrays Jones in the cave when all is going to hell is Alfred Molina, who played Dr. Otto Octavius/Doc Ock in SpiderMan 2…huh!

Ok…side note #2…if you ever get to go to Walt Disney World (like we did for our honeymoon), totally check out the “Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular!”.  The guy that does the stunts for this show was a stunt man on Raiders and shows how they created the more memorable action scenes in the movie.

I’m done now…carry on…

So, Ford plays Jones, a mild mannered archaeology professor by day and a daring adventurer by…well, day and night…who is hired by the United States government to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant before Hitler and the Nazis get their hands on it.  The Nazis believed that with the Ark in their possession, their armies would be invincible (shudder at the thought…).

Mini History Lesson: the Ark of the Covenant is the chest that the Israelites built to hold the stone pieces of the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.

Ok, back to the movie…

I really like the fact that there is dialogue when needed to move the story along, and when you don’t need it, like during any of the action sequences, it’s not there. I mean, why waste your breathe when you’re trying to stay alive!? It’s like a ballet – the movements, expressions and music pull the story along.   Even the sound of Jones’ whip cracking through the air lends to the action packed pace.

And the music…I love the “Raiders March”.  It can be played fast and loud for action, and soft for scenes between Jones’ and former lover Marion.  Raiders received the Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Sound Editing.

Hehehe…travelling by map is fun…watch "The Muppets" with Amy Adams and Jason Segel to get that joke...

The monkey is pretty funny…although it plays for the bad guys…I think.  It even knows the Nazi salute.  And then…awww…no spoilers, but awwww…

I love that George Lucas created another strong female character in Marion Ravenwood, played by Karen Allen.  A girl who isn’t afraid to use their talents, brains and God-given assets to get what they want.  And by “God-given assets”, I really do mean her womanly charms.  Take for instance, when Marion has been kidnapped by the Nazis and is drinking with Dr. Rene Belloq (remember him…from South America?) and, while acting extremely drunk, pulls a knife and walks out..well, tries to walk out.   The Nazis unfortunately stop her and throw her into the Well of Souls (the place where the Ark is hidden) to stay with Jones and…about a million snakes.

Yeah, I’m not the biggest fan of snakes, so those scenes were watched with my eyes nearly closed and my feet lifted off the floor…and no, I don’t know why I lift my feet when there are clearly no poisonous snakes in the house, it’s just a reflect – don’t judge me.

Great fantasy movie about swinging around on a whip, melting Nazis (I know, right…awesome) and deadly snakes.

Did you know…(Taken from www.imdb.com)
  • Many of the snakes in the Well of Souls are not snakes but legless lizards (look for the earholes, which snakes lack).
  • To create the sound of the heavy lid of the Ark being slid open, sound designer Ben Burtt simply recorded him moving the lid of his toilet cistern at home.
  • Harrison Ford actually outran the boulder in the opening sequence. Because the scene was shot twice from five different angles, he had to outrun it ten times. Ford's stumble in the scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

Category: Comedy

Quote: “TOGA! TOGA!”

Yes, I know…I’ve been naughty and haven’t posted in a while.  Unfortunately, work (both jobs) and trying to keep a smidge of a social life with both my husband and my friends has kept me away from my project, but NO EXCUSES…I am back with a promise the hope of stepping up the posts.  I do have vacation time in August coming up!

So, to begin…

Yeah, that’s right…I picked that quote…I mean, it’s #82 on the AFI (American Film Insitute) top 100 movie quotes of all time…it’s classic…

I do have to say though…this stuff NEVER happened when I first went to university, and then to college (shameless plug for Algonquin College…Go Thunder!), or maybe I was just oblivious.   I mean, yes, I admit to drinking before class (shots of Jagar, to be exact) and possibly having a cocktail during class (it’s not my fault…it was an 8:30 a.m. Philosophy 101 class that lasted 2 hours…I blame my friend Kate…) but never to this extent.

Everyone knows the plot…a wild and crazy fraternity that never says no to really anyone or anything challenges the school administration and a rival frat when their way of life is threatened with expulsion and the draft.  And what do the boys of Delta Tau Chi do in the face of expulsion?  Make a float called “the Deathmobile” and destroy the annual Homecoming parade.

I will admit that I was a little more excited than I should have been to watch this flick because this is the college life movie that started it all…whether screenwriters or directors admit it or not. The food fight in season 3 of Community, Sorority Boys with rival frats/sororities, (yeah…bad reference, but it proves the theory)and Accepted, starring Justin Long and Academy-Award nominee Jonah Hill.

Gotta say, the blind college student at the Omega rush party looks like a young Matthew Perry…

Oh yum…Tim Matheson’s bum…Otter has to be my favourite character…full of suave and nonsense.  Early training to play Vice President John Hoynes on The West Wing, I guess. Kinda ironic that he plays the early version of Van Wilder, and then is cast to play Van Wilder Sr., straight-laced Dad to Ryan Reyolds...

John Belushi is…well…totally and utterly brilliant.  I really believe that any scene with him in it, from the pledge names he came up with to him going through the food line at the cafeteria, the script says “John…you fill in the rest”. Pure comedic gold…and gone too soon.

(ASIDE: yup, I was totally right…the cafeteria line and “zit” scenes were completely improvised…and the cast reaction was genuine.)

Ok…yummy Donald Sutherland (good Canadian boy!)…looking at him in this film and in some of his more recent roles, he has certainly aged well. I think I would have enjoyed him as a professor – hot and totally relatable to his students…especially Katie.  And yes ladies, he shows a little bare bum too!

The soundtrack is amazing…that is all I’m going to say about that.

Of course, the Deltas are done when they go dumpster diving for a copy of the Phych 101 midterm, but the Omegas switched the test and find out that they have all failed and will definitely be kicked out of school…so what’s a frat in trouble to do? TOGA PARTY! YAY!  Which I didn’t realize that this wasn’t the norm at American universities and colleges until after this movie came out.

Both times I watched this movie for the blog, I re-winded the “Shout” scene at the toga party at least 3 times...and of course was jumping around my living room and making my husband roll his eyes.  Which is cool because a) I’m used to that and b) you can’t help but dance along to “Otis and the Knights”.

National Lampoon’s Animal House is not a deep thinking movie, nor is it a movie that you should overlook.  Culturally speaking, a very important movie…it showed potential college students (and pledges) exactly what university is like – partying every night, pissing off the Dean, and the odd toga party.

Did you know that…(courtesy of www.imdb.com)
  1. Professor Jennings bites an apple while lecturing about good and evil in John Milton's "Paradise Lost". This is a deliberate gag reference to Eve's eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, a key event in "Paradise Lost" (and referenced too perhaps by the statue pedestal motto seen in the opening titles: "Knowledge is Good"). Jennings' students miss the gag - as seems most Animal House viewers. (SIDE NOTE: Don’t worry movie goers, I did too ;) )
  2. Sean McCartin, who played the "Lucky Boy" who gets a visit from a Playmate, went on to become a pastor at a local church in Cottage Grove, Oregon. A newspaper headline about his story announced "'Lucky Boy' Still Thanking God".
  3. Bluto is the inspiration behind the character Slimer in Ghostbusters