Quick Takes: The Stand, The Wind Rises, Gold Told Me To

the-stand-movie-poster-1994-1020189668The Stand (1994)
twohalfstar

Starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Ray Walston, Rob Lowe, Bill Fagerbakke, Peter Van Norden, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, Bridgit Ryan, Kellie Overbey
Directed by Mick Garris

Having recently re-read the book, I had to also revisit this. It’s a fair adaptation, about as good as you could hope for from a network TV mini-series of the ’90s. Of course, everything is truncated quite a bit (even at 6 hours long), but its the characters that suffer the most. So much depth is lost in this version, especially with Fran, but it’s still worthwhile for fans of the book looking for a “quick” refresher. I was also disappointed that they ended without including the final scene of the book. Yes, it probably would’ve been more comical than anything else in this version, but that basic idea that “Ka is a wheel,” that this is a struggle that has been and will always continue to go on for all time, is one that feels so integral to King’s work. Oh well… I can hope for this ending in the new version. The CG is also quite dated, but the makeup FX work by Steve Johnson still shines brightly.

TheWindRisesPosterThe Wind Rises [風立ちぬ] (2013)
fourstar

Starring Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto, Masahiko Nishimura, Mansai Nomura, Jun Kunimura, Mirai Shida, Shinobu Otake, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

The Wind Rises is beautiful in every way. It sits apart from the rest of Miyazaki’s work as his most grounded film, which is funny as it’s entirely about flight. What really impressed me was how Miyazaki weaves together the professional and personal lives of real-life aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. I later found out the personal part of the story was pure fiction, adapted in part from Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 short story The Wind Has Risen, but knowing this doesn’t diminish the film’s power in any way. I was moved to tears by the relationship between Jiro and Nahoko, as I found it oddly similar to my situation as I care for my spouse as she is debilitated further and further by multiple sclerosis. It may not hit you the same way, but The Wind Rises made me appreciate each day just a little more. An absolutely wonderful film for Miyazaki to go out on.

god-told-me-to-movie-1088207586Gold Told Me To (1976)
AKA Demon

threehalfstar

Starring Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney, Sam Levene, Robert Drivas, Mike Kellin, Richard Lynch, Sammy Williams
Directed by Larry Cohen

With a title like God Told Me To, I expected the film to be about a religious nutcase going crazy in some kind of slasher-esque film. God Told Me To is vaguely like that in the first few minutes, but very quickly you realize that there’s a lot more going on here than some simple slasher horror film. In hopes that someone reading this will watch the film, I’m going to remain vague, but know that God Told Me To is a highly ambitious B-Movie that tackles huge issues and largely succeeds. It’s the kind of movie that will require some suspension of disbelief, due to the subject matter and the limited FX work, but those willing to appreciate its power will find much to like. Personally, I think the FX work is perfect and everything the film needed, but I can easily see people nowadays laughing at it “because it’s old.” Their loss. The cinematography is also excellent and vibrant throughout, thanks in part to the brand new Blu-ray from Blue Underground. In any case, if you dig B-Movies, Larry Cohen is one to explore, and God Told Me To is one of the best films I’ve seen from him.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

fasttimes_5Starring Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston, Scott Thomson, Vincent Schiavelli, Amanda Wyss, D.W. Brown, Forest Whitaker, Kelli Maroney

Directed by Amy Heckerling

Expectations: Moderate.

fourstar


It could just be my age, but Fast Times at Ridgemont High was a transcendent experience. It would seem that anyone who lived through the ’80s would have already seen this one, but I was too young to catch it initially, and my parents were just about 30 when this came out, so they were perhaps too old for its charms. In any case, I never saw it growing up, and I’ve always kind of indirectly avoided it because of its reputation. I figured there was no way for it to live up to the hype, similar to my experience watching Valley Girl for the first time a couple of years ago.

But lo and behold, Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a film with strength enough to withstand the test of time. What sets it apart from other high school movies, a genre I generally don’t care one way or the other for, is that it is timeless yet also expertly evocative of the time it was made. I was born in 1981, so I don’t remember the early ’80s, but even still the film dredged up all kinds of nostalgic thoughts and feelings of my youth. But you can’t simply hang four stars on nostalgia alone, and that’s where the timeless part comes in.

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