Remote Access

with George

Category: 1980s

Moonstruck (1987)

***½

Wait… Nicolas Cage can act?

I did not enjoy Being John Malkovich (you can read all about that here). It tried some things and it failed at most of those things. I kept waiting for it to recover, but it never did.

(Okay… movie reviewing 101: If someone plants a different movie title in the beginning of a review, he/she/it is planning on relating the movie they are reviewing back to that film later, hopefully leaving you in awe.)

Let me sum up Moonstruck for you: Cher (character name Loretta) is in a restaurant. She gets proposed to by Danny Aiello (Johnny). They get engaged, but he leaves to tend to his dying mother in Italia. Loretta/Cher is tasked with asking Johnny/Aiello’s brother, Nicolas Cage‘s Ronny, to attend their wedding. You guessed it. Loretta and Ronny fall in love.

I completely bought Loretta and Ronny. The scene they have together in his apartment is so predictable, but in a sweet, funny, and comfortable way. And it was interesting how Johnny left before we got to know him too well. We end up liking Ronny more that way.

Being John Malkovich doesn’t really get character interactions right. John Malkovich is very funny with everybody, but the rest of the characters feel like they’re holding something back. It made me very uneasy. Moonstruck, on the other hand, is light and happy.

Moonstruck makes the darker comedy funny. Being John Malkovich makes it seem like the writers were on drugs while they wrote it. And not happy drugs. Bad drugs. Shoot yourself in the face drugs. It’s not that I only like happy movies, but Moonstruck has this joyful attitude, even in the face of adversity.

Notes:

  • “I don’t believe in curses.” “Neither do I.”
  • “That was so awful!” “Awful?” “Beautiful.”
  • “I don’t care if you burn in hell… I love you.”
  • “How much?” “Twenty-five.” “Dollars?!?!”
  • “A miracle? Well that’s news!”
  • “She ate a meal that could choke a pig.”
  • “I’ll say no more.” “You haven’t said anything!” “I know. And that’s the point.”
  • “We never suspected you!”
  • “Do you love him, Loretta?” “Ma, I love him awful.” “Ah, that’s too bad.”
  • “What’s the matter, Pa?” “I’m confused.”
  • I really liked the Cappomaggis.
  • At the end of the movie, all the characters and storylines converged at once at the breakfast table. At first, it felt a little forced and convenient, but then the humor began, and I really enjoyed it.
  • If you see and enjoy Moonstruck, you might also want to check out Bringing Up Baby and Up.
  • Next time: another 70s poll!
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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

****

Hannah and Her Sisters is, as all of the Woody Allen films I’ve seen are, about it’s characters. It studies them, and the interactions they have with other characters. I suppose you could call this film a romantic comedy, but only because Netflix has to market its movies somehow.

The film follows about two years in the lives of Hannah, her sisters, her husband, and her ex-husband. (Guess how many of these characters are at least somewhat neurotic.) It’s like He’s Just Not That Into You, only better and more interesting. Mickey loves Hannah, but finds Holly unbearable; Hannah is married to Elliott, who’s nuts about Lee; Lee is here and there, and has a hilariously unexplained relationship with Frederick; Holly dates an architect who asks out her best friend; I don’t even remember who Dusty is.

As with all of the Woody Allen films I’ve seen, Hannah features New York, uses New York, and is New York. It’s plot also involves a cinema that screens old movies, as does every other Woody Allen film I’ve seen. Woody Allen seems to be making love to New York and cinema right in front of our eyes. But we don’t care, because we love it.

I doubt I’ve ever seen more meticulously fleshed-out characters than here. They’re all almost perfect. The delusional hypochondriac really would react to a cancer scare as he does in the film. An aging, struggling actress would probably be that chaotic in real life. The structure of the story is also brilliant. The characters have these gatherings every now-and-then, and at those gatherings they talk about what’s happened in their life since the last one. They’re all chasing happiness. They may not know what happiness is, but that won’t stop them.

Random bit of trivia: This was one of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ first ever films.

(Hannah and Her Sisters is available now, and for a limited time only, on Netflix Instant.)

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

****

The Thin Blue Line begins with a cop stepping out of his car. As more people and points of view are added to this action, the story gets longer.

The characters in Errol Morris documentaries are always vivid. In fact, they’re more vivid (and therefore more unbelievable) than the wildest characters in the wildest soap opera dramas. And some of them are just as unintentionally funny as those ridiculous characters too.

The smug smile on the blonde, red-faced woman. The “choc. liquid” found on the side of the road. The subtle sexism at the Dallas Police Department. These are small, humorous, and perfect details that don’t need to be in this movie. But they are, and they make it great. Attention to detail this acute is not often found in cinema.

The 1988 documentary follows the events of a fall night in Dallas, Texas, when a police officer was shot while on duty, and the consequences stemming from it.

One of the brilliant strokes of this film is the ending. The final interview, which was taped, shows no faces. All the emotion comes from the tone of David Harris’ voice. Sometimes, fact is more compelling than fiction. That is certainly the truth here.