This is probably Paul Thomas Anderson’s (Inherent Vice) best looking movie and that’s saying a lot. I guess that makes sense considering the backdrop to the weirdo love story is the world of 1950’s high fashion. It all needs to be just so and so does the handling of the delicate plot and characters. Very few filmmakers can make a picture about an abusive relationship work. In this case both sides inflict massive pain yet they really do seem to love each other despite how ludicrous and childish it looks from the outside.
I liked it a whole lot but it’s definitely not for everyone.
My buddy had a DVD copy of North Shore sitting in his basement for who the fuck knows how long. Of all the people that came through there no one had the courage to put it on. I don’t think the fear was that it was going to be a very poorly made corny 80’s teen romance picture, but that it was going to be a boring very poorly made corny 80’s teen romance picture. Well fifteen or twenty years later North Shore finally came knocking. And it’s really not bad (I know, ringing endorsement).
The movie’s about Rick, a surfing teen from Arizona who makes the journey to Hawaii to find out how good he really is. He falls in love, gains some friends, makes some enemies, gets disappointed that his hero is a total jerk and etc. It’s nothing special at all. We’ve seen this scenario play out a bajillion times before with the likes of Thrashin’, Footloose, Airborne, ‘n shit.
What’s nice about North Shore though is this kid finds out he has to work pretty damn hard to achieve his dream. It’s not that he’s naturally supremely talented like most of the films in this vein. Rick travels on his own to a place he’s never been to before and where he has no contacts. So he needs to figure out where to stay and how to earn money and practice his surfing skills so that he can become better. Instead of simply learning to believe in himself like would normally be the case it’s cool to see Rick pull himself up and put in a real good effort to make shit workout.
The Fly (1986) Ending
Spoiler on a thirty year old movie
The ending to Cronenberg’s The Fly is a throwback to older pictures where the credits would come up as soon as the bad guy was vanquished. No need to do a quick wrap up of events or ramp down of the heart pumping climax. Here there’s only time for a couple of brief reaction shots and then they start those end credits rolling. I wonder if this was an intentional nod due to it being a remake of a 1950’s joint. It’s an interesting tactic and I wouldn’t be opposed to more films ending like that. Maybe one day it’ll come back in fashion.
Days of Wine and Roses
It’s not too long before Kirsten gets on board with the booze too and very soon they both can’t put the bottle down. Their alcoholism ruins their lives as well as those around them.
The storytelling may be a little ham fisted at times where it feels like a public service announcement (for AA in particular) but its heart is definitely in the right place. Director Blake Edwards (10) and co want you to see how horrible alcohol addiction is and that if you or someone you know is wrestling with the disease there’s something you can do about it, the situation isn’t hopeless or endless.
So many aspects are touched on like Joe and Kirsten fail to hold a steady job, they have trouble looking after a small child, they lie and steal to get money to buy more liquor, Kirsten vehemently denies having an addiction and claims she can stop drinking whenever she wants, disappearing for days at a time, relapsing multiple times, severe withdrawal and etc.
Both Lemmon and Remick give incredible performances (ironically Lemmon admitted to alcohol dependency later in life) and Edwards goes all in with almost no comic relief. The whole thing’s impressive from start to finish. This is one sad and powerful picture.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Every once in a while I run up against a movie where everyone in it acts in an unnatural way and it makes me feel like an idiot because I don’t understand why that’s happening. In this case all the characters in the film are emotionless. They say their dialogue and go through scenes that are supposed to be filled with tons of catastrophe but they all remain calm and stone faced. This is what I had a hard time getting past. The story about a teenage boy placing a curse on a man’s family forcing him to sacrifice one of them to save the others is weird enough and sorta interesting. There didn’t need to be this experimental sterile performance angle on top of it. It doesn’t really add anything to the picture. In fact it’s unbelievably distracting. I would’ve loved to have seen this plot executed more straight up but we got what we got. It’s an alright movie.