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.

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

behindthecandelabra_1rStarring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Tom Papa, Nicky Katt, Cheyenne Jackson, Paul Reiser, Boyd Holbrook, David Koechner

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

threehalfstar


As I sit here wondering where to start the review, I’m realizing that articulating what I liked and didn’t like about Behind the Candelabra is going to be tough. What I can easily say is that just about everything I loved about the film stems from the performances by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon as Liberace and Scott Thorson respectively. The duo is absolutely smashing together, so even when the film hits some dull, obvious scenes through its relatively standard biopic arc, it’s hard to knock the film too much because the sheer amount of acting prowess on display is huge. Douglas and Damon would be high on the contention list for the Oscars if this wasn’t a film made for HBO.

Behind the Candelabra begins by showing us how Scott comes to meet Liberace. Scott works as a dog trainer on films, hoping to one day parlay his passion for working with animals into a career as a veterinarian. His life path shifts when his buddy Bob (Scott Bakula) takes him to a Liberace show. The performance dazzles Scott (and every other audience member), and when Scott goes backstage with Bob, Liberace immediately takes notice of Scott’s youth and good looks. There are warning signs all around Scott, but in the face of such showmanship, he can’t help but get sucked in.

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About this Movie…

MPW-47461About Last Night is a rockin’ ’80s film. The movie is based off of David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago (which I know nothing about, so I will not discuss). ALN is a sweet love story. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy gets scared and starts making bad choices, boy breaks up with girl, boy wants girl back. Boy and girl try to work it out.

First let me get it off my chest… the ’80s were so TUBULAR. There are a few noteworthy things in this film. A fan-fucking-tastic ’80s movie has a few great components. No need to ask twice, here they are.

  1. Fricking social scene: cigarettes, bar scene, beer, sexism
  2. Fantabulous Music
  3. Bitchin’ Colors
  4. Bangin’ Clothes
  5. Bangin’ Sex scene
  6. Douche-ass friend, (peer pressure) and a BFF
  7. Scamming (with the tongue)
  8. Awesome male ass shots, not just female
  9. Airhead sidekick
  10. Tight-ass Dance scene

About Last Night (ALN) had eight of the “must haves” in an ’80s movie. The plot is about a couple falling in love. This is movie is hilarious. I love the way it opens with the back and forth banter between Belushi and Lowe. I also love the consistent use of “broad,” “Humpin’ and bumpin’”, and “…so, I’m fucking her.”

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About Last Night… (1986)

aboutlast

Starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi, Elizabeth Perkins, George DiCenzo, Michael Alldredge, Robin Thomas, Donna Gibbons, Megan Mullally

Directed by Edward Zwick

Expectations: Moderate.

threestar


About Last Night kicks immediately into its frank dialogue about sexual escapades and it can be a little jarring. Maybe it’s just me, but I expect a movie to wine and dine me a bit before we’re talking about fucking in air force flak jackets and setting the room on fire both figuratively and literally. But once you get accustomed to About Last Night‘s scandalous nature, it is a pretty entertaining relationship movie.

The film centers around two pairs of friends who meet at a company softball game. Demi Moore can’t stop looking at Rob Lowe, and vice versa, so they quickly strike up a relationship based on their mutual, intense attraction. Their friends don’t take it so well, though, and the film develops into something a little more complex than your average rom-com.

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