Regardless of whether or not I like the movie, The Blues Brothers has something serious to answer for. This is probably the film that convinced movie producers that sketch characters from Saturday Night Live could be successfully translated into movies. Therefore “Joliet” Jake and Elwood have to shoulder part of the blame for travesties like A Night at the Roxbury and It’s Pat.
The problem is that the Blues Brothers weren’t sketch characters. They didn’t have a catch phrase and their only “schtick” was a genuine respect for the music that they covered. This gave screenwriters Dan Aykroyd and John Landis the freedom to craft an actual story around the characters. If the story is a little too slight to support two hours and thirteen minutes of running time, that doesn’t matter too much. Like their Blues Brothers appearances on SNL, this movie is mostly about the music.
Oliver Stone‘s JFK is a movie as admirable in its technique as it is troubling in its agenda. Much like Birth of a Nation sought to rewrite the early history of the original Ku Klux Klan, JFK represents a concerted effort on Stone’s part to insert certifiable falsehoods into the historical record of the Kennedy assassination. He gets two basic facts correct. John F. Kennedy was indeed assassinated on November 22, 1963 and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison did actually prosecute businessman Clay Shaw for his role in an alleged conspiracy. After that, the facts and Mr. Stone have a strained relationship at best. I sincerely hope that this movie will be as routinely dismissed by future generations as Birth of a Nation is today.
Spaceballs marked the beginning of a second stage to Mel Brooks‘ career. After a busy decade in the 1970s, he had been quiet since 1981’s History of the World, Part I. Unlike his early films, where he satirized broad genres or at least the entire life’s work of a single director, this second wind would find him targeting a single film for parody and, in this case, a full decade after the film in question, Star Wars, was current and considered ripe for the spoofing.
The real weakness of this and later Brooks films is the laziness of the humor. Brooks seems to be weakly emulating the style of Abraham/Zucker films that his early work helped to inspire, such as Airplane!. Continue reading →