When strangers at the same school get together

We may not be entertained by teens saying meaningless and pointed things in real life, but if they are played in film, then it’s okay, isn’t it? Most entertaining is the role playing in The Breakfast Club (1985). The Breakfast Club has lots of smart ‘teen talk’, but also interesting characters. A Saturday High School detention brings them together with different reasons for being there.

Set in a high school for most its running time, it stars Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, who were all recognizable Hollywood names in the 1980’s, with this film landing many of them into the limelight.

As students on detention, their tough supervisor, played by Paul Gleason, assigns them to write an essay on “who they are” which gets predictable results and blank stares. Instead of writing, they talk, and the teacher gets on their nerves and vice versa.

Judd Nelson as John Bender (bent by name and game) is believable as the bully who has been bullied. Firing off one-liners, he doesn’t hold back, words which have an unbridled ring of honesty, and underlining humor.

The five grate each other, which has a ring of truth about it, and the whole event is saying something about transience, friendship, and healing—unusually so for detention. The real-life stuff that they hide gets shared eventually.

There is coarse language at times. A scene where the students get ‘high’ on drugs is handled less than meaningfully, but with a touch of humor.

However, I laughed only a couple of times, but I was entertained all the way.

I appreciated the banter between the students, the always amusing role playing, the human connection, and the acting’s good. The Breakfast Club may even touch the cockles of your heart.

It seems that when strangers at the same school get together there is stuff they can talk about and connect with, despite all the other stuff that goes on.


The Breakfast Club (1985) **** Starring: Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy.

 

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Faithfulness and duty in Dicky Tracy

Warren Beatty’s movie is a stylish film version of the Dick Tracy comic strip from the 1930’s.

Dick Tracy (1990) is about organized crime and emboldened detective Tracy is onto it like a bolt.

The Kid (Charlie Korsmo) is an orphan that detective Dick Tracy picks up on a job and takes under his wing. Tracy and his girlfriend don’t live together and have contemplated getting married. When Tracy is tempted by singer Breathless Mahoney, he knows to resist.

Criminal’s names are monochrome as in Big Boy, Flat Face etc. The film features hardened criminals whose clothes fit the times, and so do their noses, which are bent out of shape.

Distortion and facial peculiarity is taken to a new dimension in this film. They come with the most inventive botox of the year, which went on to win the Oscar for best make-up.

You may know Al Pacino from his charismatic style of performance, but you’ll have to look close to see him underneath a sheet of plastered ugliness as Big Boy Caprice, a criminal mastermind. Big Boy throws his weight around as the other colourfully attired gangsters oblige.

Big Boy brings his boys on board in what he says is their quest to be the top dogs in the city, but we know who’s got the ego here. All the same, a solid, reliable hero in Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) who fights back.

Madonna as Mahoney seems to be going through the motions. Yet Dick Tracy is an artfully made matinee style blockbuster and utilizes the framing style of comic strips in many scenes. Art director and cinematographer give the look of the film a winning ambiance.

No swearing and sex, but there are scenes of heavy cartoonish violence and sexual references. The main theme is top notch, it’s about love or duty or both love and duty.

Dick Tracy is innovatively done, but for a blockbuster it is not fun Saturday evening entertainment.


Dick Tracy (1990) *** Starring: Warren Beatty, Madonna, Al Pacino, Glenne Headly, Charlie Korsmo. Director: Warren Beatty.

 

Better than it seems

The best of The Boss Baby (2017) is letting the viewer imagine the big picture of the story, which comes alive in the mind’s eye for just a moment. That by the end clicks in place rather than has been joined at the dots. Imagination theatre for young and old alike. It makes everything seem great.

That may not be an advertisement for the film—it withholds things from the viewer. But to be fair, when everything clicks into place, it’s magic. You just got to give it a chance.

The story starts with contended seven-year-old Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi) in his ideal life as Mom and Dad’s centre of attention. Then the improbable arrival of the Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), who claims to be Tim’s brother, changes all that.

Mom and Dad believe the Boss Baby is Tim’s brother and their son, but this business-minded, briefcase wearing, appointment bound CEO is on a mission.

The centre of this film is the Boss Baby, a stand out, but surrounding him is necessary essential characters than enhance the film.

Into all this is a strong theme of getting along as brothers despite all the negatives that go on between brothers.

It all made better sense in the end with that eureka moment I wrote about—but on closer inspection the meat in the sandwich tastes good as well.


The Boss Baby (2017) ***½ Starring: voices of Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Buscemi, Miles Bakshi. Director: Tom McGrath. Based on the book by Marla Frazee. Written by Michael McCullers.

 

Sentimental dog stories

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) is not electrifying viewing but coming with something interactive–trying to understand what makes a dog tick, a dog’s purpose.

In this film, it’s easy enough to find out, from being offered the meaning behind the roustabout antics of puppies, to the loyalty of a faithful friend who adapts his owner’s wishes though would sooner be free.

The point is that these adaptable dogs keep on giving to their owners even against their own natures to be free.

One may leave the final word to the narrator at the end of the movie, which has the ring of truth. Even the hardest of hearts may let the sentiment of that moment in.

Central to proceedings is the dog belonging to Ethan. The story of Ethan and his dog goes from Ethan’s childhood, his teenage years, to adulthood.

Dennis Quad plays the older Ethan.

Ethan has a lost love and a tough father, which comes back to, I was going say haunt him, but in this kind of film, it is gentler than that and may even move one’s feelings.

There are two other stories, both set in the city, featuring the same dog as Ethan’s. Ethan’s dog dies and comes back to life, but this isn’t a metaphor for reincarnation. It’s a metaphor for what is a dog’s purpose in different situations.


A Dog’s Purpose (2017) ***½ Starring: Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad. Director: Lasse Hallstrom. Based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron.Not a bad film, quite a sentimental one, just lacking that bite (excuse the pun).