The hero of this film is an insomniac (Jeff Goldblum) who doesn’t really know where his life is headed. Watching Into the Night left me with a similar feeling, and I don’t necessarily mean that as a criticism. This whole movie seemed infused with that groggy, discombobulated feeling you get when you’ve been awake for thirty-six hours straight. Continue reading →
Mix theoretical physics, rock’n’roll, neurosurgery, Orson Welles and Rastafarian aliens from another dimension and you get this goofily eccentric genre-bending science-fiction action comedy. This is definitely one of those “love-it-or-hate-it” movies that you recommend to friends with caution. After watching this, they will either thank you profusely or recommend you for civil commitment.
Remakes are rarely a good idea. Remakes of classics are even less likely to be a good idea. They rarely improve on the original and more often, to be blunt, they suck. But up with it I’m willing to put if it means that, from time to time, we get a remake like this one, which takes everything that was good about the original and turns it around so it is relevant to the present.
This film probably would have been better off waiting until this year to see the light of day. Not only is this film more appropriate to a time when the list of people not running for President is almost shorter than the list of people running, but it would have given writer and director Barry Levinson an extra year to decide exactly what film he wanted to make and actually get it right.
With computer generated special effects in movies about as common as dirt these days, it’s hard to imagine that it’s only been a little over a decade since CGI was the latest novelty. After early pioneering work in James Cameron‘s The Abyss and Terminator 2, CGI was ready for the big time. Jurassic Park was the first film to use computers as a major component of its special effects and to realistically simulate living creatures.
What’s sad to report is that after more than a decade, even with the massive improvements in computer power since 1993, there have been only a handful of movies to use CGI as effectively as Jurassic Park did. Almost anyone with a modicum of talent, a computer and a few thousand dollars in software to produce film quality CGI effects. However, the ability to create life-like critters like Jurassic Park‘s dinosaurs requires an eye for movement, form and mass that takes more than the latest software to develop. I think because the effects technicians behind Jurassic Park knew they were breaking new ground in technology, they were rigorously careful that their creations did not look fake.
If nothing else, The Right Stuff could go down in history as the movie that could have elected a President. At a time when the Democratic party was looking for a viable candidate to challenge Ronald Reagan in 1984, the image of Ed Harris as John Glenn, the squeaky clean All-American with the can-do attitude filled them with hope that the real former astronaut turned senator could help them re-capture the White House. I think the film may have actually hurt Glenn in the long run. While he was an American hero, a capable senator and probably would have made an able president, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, he’s no Ed Harris, at least not in the charisma department.
Unfortunately, all the focus on political ramifications had nothing to do with the actual film, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Too bad, because it’s one of the best films of the 1980s, taking real life personalities and molding them into something like a modern American myth.
Lawrence Kasdan‘s Silverado is a modern old-fashioned western. It’s old-fashioned in the way that it pretends that the western never fell out of favor as a genre. Embued with the optimism that westerns lost in the late 1960s and 1970s, it freely embraces the time-honored conventions that Blazing Saddles gleefully lampooned a decade earlier. It’s modern in its first-rate production values and its cast of stars-in-the-making.
Filmed mostly in New Mexico, Silverado makes the maximum use of the wide open spaces available. Towns sit in the middle of vast plains that stretch to distant mountains. The cinematography is almost a character unto itself.