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Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

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Top Gun

Posted by Big Boo on October 7th, 2009

top gunIt may not have been his first movie, but if it wasn’t for Top Gun then I don’t think Tom Cruise would be as big a star as he is today. This film made Cruise a household name in 1986 and for the rest of the Eighties he was one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors.

Top Gun itself has also made itself part of popular culture history, at the time making Aviator sunglasses and bomber jackets cool and making the phrase “I feel the need… The need for speed” a much quoted line. It also got a generation of kids interested in becoming a fighter pilot, and is probably where a lot of people got their inspiration from when coming up with a cool sounding nickname when playing video games online!

Looking at the film today it still holds up well, mainly due to the fact that the footage of the jet planes flying about is actually jet planes flying about, not model shots or as it would be today, computer generated images. Indeed the film makers even managed to convince the US Navy to fire two real missiles, such were the lengths they went to for realism.

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Posted by Big Boo on August 14th, 2009

ferris buellers day offWith writer and director John Hughes passing away recently it made me realise that despite him creating a great many films in the eighties, I have only covered one of them so far on this site (The Breakfast Club if you’re interested).  Time to put that to rights then with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is a high school student who awakes one morning and decides the day is too nice to go to school, so fakes illness to deceive his parents and then spends the rest of the day enjoying himself in Chicago along with his best friend Cameron and his girlfriend Sloane.

The fun starts when Ferris persuades Cameron to borrow his father’s car in order to get around the city.  This might not seem such a bad idea, except that the car in question is a restored 1961 Ferrari, not exactly the most inconspicuous car to be driving around in when you’re playing hookie!

Of course things are never simple and Ferris and his friends have to keep one step ahead of various people who are trying to catch him out, in particular Mr. Rooney, a teacher from his school who suspects Ferris of sciving off and heads over to his house to try to find him.  Luckily for Ferris, his sister Jeannie returns home and scares Mr. Rooney off, thinking he is a burglar.  Unfortunately for Ferris, Jeannie is also out to find him as she is annoyed (and perhaps a bit jealous?) that he can bunk off so easily.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street

Posted by Big Boo on July 31st, 2009

freddy kruegerOne of the rites of passage when you’re a teenager is to try and sneak into the cinema to see a film that has a rating older than your actual age.  Once you can legally see a 15 certificate film you set your sights on getting into an 18 certificate, which generally means going to see a horror film.  In the eighties, chances are said horror film would have been one from the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Created by Wes Craven, the Nightmare on Elm Street films are about the hideously faced, stripey sweatered villain that is Freddy Krueger, portrayed so well by Robert Englund.  Topped off with a fedora hat and the famous long bladed glove, even if you’ve never seen one of the films you surely must know who Freddy Krueger is.

The first film in the series tells the story of how the teenagers of Elm Street start to suffer nightmares where a shadowy figure stalks them.  When they awake they find these bad dreams may have been more than just nightmares, as they find cuts in their clothing and even on their bodies.

One of the first to be affected is a young woman called Tina, who is so petrified about going to sleep she convinces her friend Nancy and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp’s first movie role!) to sleep over to calm her down.  Tina’s boyfriend Rod also comes along, and as the evening progresses he convinces Tina to go to bed with him, something which he regrets later when he awakes to find her being gored to death and pulled across the ceiling of the bedroom.

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WarGames

Posted by Big Boo on May 27th, 2009

wargamesBeing into computers from a young age I always found it amusing when films tried to depict some amazing computer hacker doing something highly clever and probably illegal, but the stuff you see popping up on their computer screen is usually complete rubbish.  One of my favourite examples is Speed 2: Cruise Control, where the computer expert has an old parallel port switch box which has been relabelled Laser Uplink Unit, or something equally meaningless but which sounds highly techy.

I’m pleased to say that WarGames was nothing like that.  It’s depiction of computer hacking was actually very very good indeed.  Sure the plot of the film may be a bit unlikely, but pretty much everything computer related that was shown was plausible for the technology available at that time.

The story follows young hacker David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) who is a clever but disillusioned student.  After showing off his hacking skills to school friend Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy) by logging in to the school computer system to change their school grades, David sets up his computer to dial into every phone number in the Sunnyvale, California area in incrementing order.  He is trying to find the server for a new computer game he has seen advertised.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation

Posted by Big Boo on May 11th, 2009

raiders adaptation castFor most people Raiders of the Lost Ark is still the best of the Indiana Jones films, and I think it’s safe to say that this is the case for Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, who devoted most of their summer holidays as teenagers in the 1980’s to making their own version of this classic film.

I know what you’re thinking. A couple of teenagers remaking a big budget Hollywood film set in a number of far flung locations – it can only be completely rubbish right? Well, I thought the same, but after seeing the first ten minutes or so, where Indy grabs the idol from the cave and is chased by the giant boulder, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it can’t hope to live up to the same standards as it’s inspiration, but the boys sure gave it a good shot.

I’m surprised I haven’t heard about this before, since the adaptation is pretty much scene for scene complete, only missing a few bits which the lads were just plainly unable to shoot, and comes in at around 1 hour 40 minutes in length, about 15 minutes less than the original. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation was even given a cinema release in 2003, although admittedly only in a single cinema in Texas.

Many thanks then to the Big Stupid Idiot blog for bringing this to my attention, and for an in depth look at the making of this frankly astounding piece of amateur film making, there’s an article on the Vanity Fair website. Check out those first few minutes of the film below as well. I urge you to stick with it until the fun stuff where Indy steals the idol from the cave.



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The Breakfast Club

Posted by Big Boo on April 15th, 2009

the breakfast clubI noticed John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club on Sky Movies the other day so thought I would watch it again to refresh my memory.  I had forgotten just how good this film is, but one new thing I noticed this time round is that this film must be one of The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s favourite films.  Not only is one of the characters named Bender (as in the robot from Futurama) but he also utters the phrase “Eat my shorts“, a phrase popular with a young yellow skinned fellow named Bart…

Anyway, what’s the film about?  It’s set in a school on a Saturday morning.  Five of the pupils have been given detention and they have to sit it out in the school library writing an essay that describes who they think they are, a task set for them by teacher Richard Vernon, who is a bit dysfunctional himself it has to be said.

The five teenagers each fit neatly into a different stereotypical variety of High School student.  There’s the aforementioned John Bender (an off the rails lout), Andrew Clark (the sporty one), Claire Standish (one of the “popular” girls), Brian Johnson (the bookworm) and Allison Reynolds (the freakish one).

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Fame

Posted by Big Boo on March 13th, 2009

kids from fameThere are some TV shows and films which somehow manage to seep into the public consciousness, whether you ever watched them or not.  A good example of this is Fame, a film (and later TV show) that was about the staff and pupils at New York City High School for the Performing Arts, and which was around for most of the 1980’s.

Now, I fit firmly into the “didn’t watch” group, yet somehow I still remember a fair bit about the show.  OK, I probably saw the odd bit of an episode here and there, but I never actually purposely watched it, so how come it sticks in my mind so well?

I think there are many reasons, most of which come from the TV series rather than the film, but I’ll start with the biggest reason, the theme music.  The title track, called simply Fame, was originally sung by Irene Cara for the film, and later by Erica Gimpel,  for the TV series.  Gimpel played the part of Coco Hernandez in the TV show.  This song was a highly bouncy and energetic song with the chorus proclaiming “Fame!  I want to live for ever, I want to learn how to fly!“, words which will no doubt be familiar to many as the track performed well in the charts at the time.

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Honey I Shrunk The Kids

Posted by Big Boo on February 25th, 2009

honey i shrunk the kidsSneaking in at the end of the decade, Disney’s film Honey I Shrunk The Kids was released in 1989 and became a very successful kids comedy adventure film, spawning several sequels, a TV show and even an attraction at Disneyland!

Wayne Szalinski’s (Rick Moranis) is a struggling inventor who has been tinkering in his attic trying to invent a shrink ray, a machine that is capable of shrinking anything to a fraction of it’s original size. Initially tests of the device don’t go well, with the items to be shrunk usually ending up exploding, but all this is fixed when one of the next door neighbours kids throws a baseball through the window, knocking the machine. Wayne’s kids accompany the two boys from next door into the attic to retrieve the baseball, and find themselves shrunk to the size of ants in the process.

The kids try to raise the alarm but end up getting taken out with the rubbish, and find themselves in an even worse predicament, stuck at the bottom of the back garden. Given their newly reduced size they find the garden a particularly hazardous place to be, having to fend off giant insects (well, giant to them anyway), massive water droplets from the garden sprinkler and even a robot lawnmower!

Meanwhile, realising what has happened, Wayne goes searching for the kids in the back garden, rigging up a rope and pulley system which he dangles from whilst wearing a massive magnifying glass, so as not to crush the kids accidentally under foot.

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