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Archive for the ‘1986’ Category

nothingincommonThis movie to me was a prelude to how great Tom Hanks could be as an actor. This movie is also one of my favorite movies ever because no matter how many times I watch it I get so caught up in the film that I can’t focus on anything else, like write a review.  This film got me on a personal level because of the relationship I had with my father and even more so now that my father is gone.  Despite that I still argue that this is one of Hanks best performances he has had and in my list of Top Five Favorite Tom Hanks films this film is in the Top 5.

David Basner, played by Tom Hanks (The Man with One Red Shoe,) is a single, newly promoted executive in a successful Chicago advertising agency.  In an effort to gain a possible partnership in the agency he is trying bring in a new client, an airline, to the agency.  Before he can get started he gets a phone call from his estranged father Max, played by Jackie Gleason (Smokey and the Bandit,) who tells David that his mom, Lorraine, played by Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront,) has left him.  David begins to endure the worst time of his life as he tries to understand what happened to his parents, helping the both, dealing with the new client’s daughter Cheryl Ann, played by Sela Ward (Independence Day: Resurgence,) who is an executive with the new client, and leaning on his friend and ex high school girlfriend Donna, played by Bess Armstrong, (Jaws 3-D,) for support.

To me this is the first movie that Tom Hanks shows his ability to be a great dramatic actor.  In his scenes with Jackie Gleason he does a great job of portraying a low level form of dislike for the man as well as a begrudging love.  He also does a great job in showing his frustration with having to try and be a caring son to his separated parents and not have it affect his work, which it definitely does.  But not only is he able to show his dramatic chops in this film but he is able to make the funny scenes in this comedy drama very funny.  I don’t know if it was writing or improvisation but his quick wit was on display when he is sparing with his fellow employees as well as with the owner of the airline.   Hanks also makes this character very likeable.  I enjoy watching him in every scene and I am cheering for him when he sleeps with the airline stewardess as well as Cheryl Ann.  I also want to see him get back together with Donna as well.  And because I am cheering for him I feel his pain as he struggles with accepting the separation of his parents and especially the difficulty in his relationship with his dad.  I believe that this is easily his best performance in the 1980’s which includes the movie Big and is a great indicator of his future success in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

The other actor who was amazing in this film, and mind you I think all were great, was Jackie Gleason.  His portrayal of Max was amazing as he showed a man that is in some ways not a likeable man but in many ways a sympathetic man.  To me his character represented the ending of the single income household from the 40’s and 50’s in that the woman stayed home to raise the kids and the men worked.  That kind of man could still love his wife and family but have affairs and justify it.  He also made sure that he worked hard enough and long enough to make sure his family was never wanting for more.  He also was the kind of man who didn’t complain about illness and wasn’t likely to change either.  All of these traits were clashing with the men of the 1980’s who were a little bit more in touch with their feelings.  This dynamic plays out constantly in this movie with Max and David’s relationship.  Max never tells David he loves him, but David knows he does.  The amazing part of Jackie Gleason’s performance is that by this time in his life he was literally dying.  He was suffering from 4 different forms of cancer and was actually retired when director Garry Marshall asked him to come do this film.  He was able to get Gleason to do it because he told him if he didn’t then his last film would have been Smokey and the Bandit 3 and trust me that is not a good thing.

Eva Marie Saint did a nice job as David’s mother.  She had two great scenes when she tells David that she knew his father was cheating on her during their marriage and that everyone knew it and that she was embarrassed to admit it to him.  This was the catalyst for a bad confrontation between David and Max.  The other scene is when Max is in the hospital and she is there to initially check up on him and it devolves into yet another fight about their relationship and what he didn’t do.  The only thing she did that was annoying to me, and its small but it gets me every time I watch this film, is when she has cleaned her old apartment that she shared with Max and stocked it for him before he gets home from the hospital.  She gives David the keys and tells him she is never coming back.  She then turns and walks towards the door and gives both sides of the room a look and then shakes her head and walks out of the room forever.  The head shake is more of a good buy and good riddance shake and it just bothers me.  I get it, I know why she did it, but it still bothers me.

The entire supporting cast was great as well.  Loved Bess Armstrong as Donna Martin and am somewhat surprised that the only other big movie she was ever in was Jaws 3-D.  That is some kind of miscarriage of justice.  Sela Ward was also great as Cheryl Ann Wayne, the 80’s female power broker and a great counter to David’s borderline childish empowerment in the work force. The other main supporting cast that were noticeable were the airline owner Andrew Woolridge, played by Barry Corbin (Wargames,) the owner of the ad agency Charlie Gargis, played by Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman,) and Roger the director, played by John  Kapelos (The Breakfast Club.)  Both Roger and Charlie play a part in helping David’s relationship with Max although in different ways.  Roger admits to David that he hasn’t spoken to his dad in years right after David talks about the huge fight he had with Max.  But the best part is when David just had blown up at Mr. Woolridge and was fired by Cheryl Wayne from the account and Charlie comes in to see how David is doing.  David has learned that Max has to go into surgery that he may not survive.  Charlie explains to David about his failings with dealing with his own fathers illness and how in the end Charlie’s father didn’t recognize him.  Both of these events pointed David into first saving his relationship with his dad and then staying with him during and after the surgery.  They were great small moments that lead to great big moments.

I can go on and on but its safe to say that I am a big fan of the film.  I am sure my love of the film blinds me from some of the negatives but I don’t care.  For me this film also hits home with the relationship I had with my father both the good and the bad times during my life.  I can say without a doubt that I wish I could have been there in the end but I can also say that I was glad that I had a great relationship with in the end and in that aspect have no regrets.  Which I think is the point of this story as well.

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moneypitWell my friend Benn Farrell decided that the theme for November 2016 movies will be the movies of one of the best American actors of my generation, Tom Hanks. The great thing about Hanks is that before he was a great dramatic actor, he was the one of the 80’s funniest comedic actors.  One of his funnier movies in the 80’s was the classic The Money Pit where he and actress Shelly Long take on a house.

Walter Fielding, played by Tom Hanks (Sully,) is a lawyer who has been screwed over by his own father, who is also a lawyer, when his dad steals money from all of their joint clients and runs off to Brazil.  He is forced to live with his longtime girlfriend Anna, played by Shelley Long (The Brady Bunch Movie,) and that place they are living is at her ex-husbands downtown New York Apartment.  Unfortunately, Max, played by Alexander Godunov (Die Hard,) is coming back from Europe and they have to get out.  They decide to take a chance on a house in the suburbs that is cheaper than it should be.  Soon they find out that everything that is could be wrong with the house is wrong with the house and both Walter and Anna have to deal with the house and the contractors fixing the house and Anna’s ex-husband while they are waiting for the house to get fixed and keep their relationship together.

This movie reminds me of how awesome Tom Hanks is as a comedic actor.  His physical comedy with regards to what happens to the house as he starts fixing it causes me to giggle.  Especially when he rings the doorbell and it shocks him and when he hits his hand with the hammer his face is priceless both times.  Also he has one of the best movie laughs in history.  It happens when Walter and Anna are pouring water into the bathtub and the tub falls through the floor of the second story bathroom and hits the ground floor.  It is absolutely hilarious.  His comedic timing is perfect between himself and Shelley Long during the big fight scene.  They are being verbally abusive to each other and its amazing watching him not miss a beat in the entire confrontation.  No big surprise, he is the star of the show.

But I would be remiss not to mention two other characters in the film that helped make it a great funny show, the house and the contractors.  The house is a wonderful nemesis to Walter and Anna.  It is wonderful in helping test their relationship.  It slowly builds from when the front door falls off, to when the staircase collapses, to the fireplace and on and on.  It is really fun to see how the house comically destroys the two. The best scene with the house is the chain reaction scene which is somewhat synonymous with their relationship.  I also mentioned the contractors as the other character in this film and I specifically mention the group as a single character.  The owners of the company are a bunch of brothers named Shirk and we only see them once individually but they are all fun to watch but Art Shirk, played by Joe Mantegna (Godfather III,) is the best.  He hits on Anna and constantly makes sexual innuendos about carpentry.  But he was just the start.  Look at the contractors and you will see a motley crew of individuals you would expect to see at a carnival.  Walther’s interaction with them is enjoyable to watch every time the scene switches to the house.  These two characters help make the movie funnier.

I also want to mention the character Max played by Alexander Godunov.  Godunov played the role of the egotistical conductor very nice.  He constantly is begging Anna to come back to him but also shows how self-centered he is and showing why she left him in the first place.  He is also is the tipping point in the relationship between Walter and Anna by tricking Anna into thinking she cheated on Walter with him while he was out of town.  I enjoyed Godunov in this film.  I remember him more as the main henchman in the movie Die Hard and was once a talented dancer but his personal demons were too much and he committed suicide a few years after Die Hard.  So its nice to have him in this film in a role that is different than his Die Hard film.

I have failed to have mention Shelly Long in this film and I need to do so because I do not want to sound like her role was insignificant.  However, while I find that she did nothing bad at all in the film she stood out to me in no particular way.  She was the perfect foil to Tom Hanks as the romantic lead.  She reminded me of her role in the long running 80’s TV show Cheers.  She was funny and charming with a little fight in her.  But the fact that she doesn’t stand out almost bothers me.  She left Cheers for a movie career and this is almost the highlight of her film career.  As much as I love this movie, that’s not good.  For what its worth she is entertaining in this film.

This is one of those great 80’s comedies that remind me of my childhood because its silly, pointless and funny.  It also goes to show how awesome Tom Hanks was as a comedic actor in the 80’s and it makes me wonder why he really hasn’t done one now.  But then again there aren’t a lot of great comedies being made in today’s cinema so maybe that’s why.  If you haven’t seen this film please watch it and prepare to chuckle.

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highlanderOne of the all time classic 80’s movies, Highlander is one of those movies that people will stop what they are doing to watch it on TV, especially if you were a teenager in the 80’s. It had sword fights and decapitations and nudity. There is even a little love for the ladies who could put up with the bad acting and cheesy visual and sound effects. One of its saving grace’s is that the sound track is done by the band Queen, which leads to its own hilarity. This is one of those great movies of the 80’s that is not a great movie.

Two men are seen having a sword fight in the parking lot of Madison Square Garden during a wrestling match. One of the men, Russell Nash, played by Christopher Lambert (Mortal Kombat,) wins the fight and cuts off the man’s head. He immediately suffers from a mysterious electric charge. He then has a flash back where he is preparing to fight with the Scottish Clan McLeod’s in 16th Century Scotland. So begins the story of Conner McLeod/Russell Nash and the great prize between him and all of the remaining immortals.

There is actually a lot more to the story but it is long and if written out can be somewhat confusing or uninteresting, which it is neither. Actually the script and story is one of the film’s strong points. It is very finite. What I mean by that is that the story is very complete and doesn’t leave any gapping holes or future story lines to explore. I like that about this movie and I don’t understand why the producers decided to make four sequels to this movie. I am proud to say that I have not seen a single sequel and that won’t change because the story for the first movie is perfect and I think it has a good ending.

Another love of this movie is the sword fights. There are plenty and all though very choreographed are fun to watch. There is something about sword fighting that is entertaining. I guess maybe because it looks like a noble way of settling things, also it is a very personal way of combat and that is something that we don’t have now with the worlds ability to blow up 20 people with a car bomb even though sword fighting is very bloody and violent. But that is why Conan The Barbarian, Kill Bill movies and The Last Samurai are fun to watch.

The acting is very ok, except for the 30 minutes that Sean Connery (A Bridge Too Far,) is in the movie as McLeod’s tutor/mentor Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. He shows up to teach Conner what he is and how he must prepare to kill the worst of the immortals, The Kurgan, played by Clancy Brown (Starship Troopers.) Connery is in a class by himself in this movie in terms of acting although Brown was great as the bad guy and it looked like he had fun with the movie.

The music that is performed by Queen is great. The group really made some classics for this movie, especially the love song, Who Wants to Live Forever. If you like Queen and have not heard the music for the movie, how that is possible I don’t know, then the soundtrack is a must have. The one funny thing about having Queen do the soundtrack is that when the bad guy is playing loud music to emphasize that he is the tough guy, the music that is being played is Queen. I don’t know of any tough guy song’s made by Queen. The orchestrated music sounded like it was done by the same guy who did the first couple of Friday the 13th movies. So obviously it is nothing special.

The movies sound effects and visual effects suffer from being made in the mid 80’s before computers helped with science fiction special effects and the creatures in the final scene look like they have been stole from the Raiders of the Lost Ark ghosts after the ark was open.

Overall this movie is a classic 80’s movie and should be watched by one and all. It’s a great fairy tale and If you watch it I highly suggest you don’t watch the others and if you have watched the others and didn’t like them, give this movie a chance. Even though I haven’t seen the sequels, I am sure this one is the best.

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