By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Three friends sleep together.
Leonardo (Brad Davis), Jessica (Karen Allen), and Nick (Jameson Parker) are students attending Harvard University during the late ‘60s. As they become intertwined with the events of that turbulent era they also form a strong bond that lasts through their school years and on into young adulthood. Leonardo has a relationship with Jessica at first, but it doesn’t work out, so Nick steals her away. Initially Leonardo is angered, but he eventually adjusts and the three later form a ménage a trois.
This was the first film directed by noted producer Rob Cohen and overall I liked the feel. The narrative is fragmented and dreamlike, but it also has a nice nostalgic quality. The script is broadly written, but still gives one a good sense of what life was like on a college campus during that period. The final scene where Leonardo visits an underground student revolution movement where they resort to violent, unlawful means to achieve social change I found to be the most compelling.
Davis gives another great performance and I’m always amazed at the way he can play an effective gay character such as he did in the homoerotic Querelle, but still manage to pull off being a flaming heterosexual too. Allen says little, but her piercing emerald eyes had me hooked on her regardless. Parker is stiff and boring, but still successfully works as an anchor to the other two who are aggressively idealistic.
It’s also fun to see Shelley Long in her film debut. Her character has little to do with the main plot, but watching her portray a man during a stage production while wearing a mustache and male body hair glued to her chest is a hoot.
Usually with these types of films the viewer gets treated to a plethora of overplayed period rock hits, but not here. Instead it’s a loud, booming orchestral score that gets both obnoxious and pretentious as it makes it seem like this is an epic of some kind when in reality it’s just a simple story of young people learning to cope in the real world and the music should’ve reflected that with a quiet folk rock sound.
The film also doesn’t take advantage of the unorthodox sexual activity of its main characters. Three friends, even in these more liberal times, rarely end up becoming a sexual trio. Having this story element introduced late and then quickly dropped is frustrating and should’ve been more explored as it is the one unique thing in an otherwise derivative film that is good enough to get a passing grade, but not much else.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: March 12, 1980
Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes
Director: Rob Cohen
Studio: United Artists
Posted in 80's Movies, Cold Climate/Wintertime Movies, College Life, Drama, Romance
Tagged Brad Davis, Entertainment, Jameson Parker, Karen Allen, Movies, Review, Rob Cohen, Shelley Long
By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Shopaholic turns to crime.
Rosalie (Marianne Sagebrecht) is a German immigrant who has married an American crop duster (Brad Davis) and moved onto a small ranch just outside of Stuttgart, Arkansas. There they raise a large family while also becoming obsessed with American consumerism by recording all the TV-shows on their VCR, but only so they can watch the commercials. Rosalie becomes a particularly obsessive shopper buying things that she really doesn’t need even when her money and credit become tapped out. She then figures out a way to hack into the accounts other people and companies via her home computer, which allows her to continue to pay for all her items by embezzling it from others.
This marks the fourth teaming of director Percy Adlon and star Sagebrecht and straight after their big success in the cult classic Bagdad Café. The film was made on-location in Arkansas, but financed by a German production company. I’m not sure what camera lens was used or the film stock, but the color contrast is quite unique and gives the whole thing an Avant-garde appearance. The storyline is original as well and veers off into unpredictable ways while making a great point, which is that unbridled capitalism can be just as dangerous and oppressive as any other form of government.
Sagebrecht is a delight and the moment where tears trickle down her checks as she becomes homesick for her native land while watching home movies taken in Germany is touching. Judge Reinhold is funny as the priest who becomes aware of Rosalie’s shenanigans through hearing them during confession, but completely exasperated about what to do about it. Brad Davis, a highly underrated actor who died too young, plays a rugged country man that’s completely against type from his more famous roles in the homoerotic films Midnight Express and Querelle.
Unfortunately the script, which was co-written by Adlon and his wife Eleonore veers too far into the whimsical and shows too much of a naiveté in regards to cyber technology. The idea that Rosalie could somehow ‘guess’ what everybody’s password was even those used by big companies and major banks is too farfetched and even if she did somehow figure them out all they’d have to do is change them once they realized their accounts had been hacked, which would’ve ended Rosalie’s cybercrimes right there.
The fact that she is able to cover up her crimes by doing even more outrageous ones and never, ever having to face the consequences of her actions is far too fanciful. It also makes light of a genuinely serious issue where the poor and lower middle-class do not have the same resources to get out of their financial predicaments as the rich do. They also do not have the convenience to magically cheat-the-system like the character here and those that do will almost always have it catch up with them where they will ultimately face harsh repercussions no matter how ‘justified’ they may have felt they were in doing it.
Some may argue that this was just a wish-fulfillment comedy, but even then there still needs to be some realm of possibility to it for it to be satisfying and this has none and it also makes the so-called clever twists lose their edge once you realize that none of it is plausible.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: May 19, 1989
Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes
Director: Percy Adlon
Studio: Pelemele Film
Available: VHS, DVD (Region 2), Amazon Instant Video
Posted in 80's Movies, Dry Humor, Foreign Films, Movies that take place in the South, Movies with a rural setting, Obscure Movies, Offbeat
Tagged Brad Davis, Entertainment, Judge Reinhold, Marianne Sagebrecht, Movies, Percy Adlon, Review