Tag Archives: Jeff Goldblum

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Aliens create human clones.

Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) is a public health inspector who finds that people around him are beginning to behave strangely. It starts with his friend Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) who insists her boyfriend Geoffrey (Art Hindle) has somehow ‘changed’. Soon other people are saying the same thing and they slowly realize that human clones are being created from alien pods while the people sleep. These clones look exactly like the people they have replaced, but are devoid of any emotion. Matthew and Elizabeth along with married couple Jack and Nancy (Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright) try to escape, but find themselves increasingly outnumbered in this creepy remake of the 1956 classic.

Talented director Philip Kaufman who has never gotten enough credit does a masterful job of weaving an updated version of the tale with more contemporary sensibilities. The balance between sci-fi, thriller and drama really works. The story is perfectly paced and the characters and situations remain believable throughout. Transferring the setting from a small town to San Francisco was inspired. Kaufman captures the sights, sounds and everyday ambience of the city better than just anybody who has done a film there and I really loved the shot of an early morning fog settling in on the top of the Transamerica Pyramid.

The special effects are fantastic. The opening sequence showing the alien spores raining down on the city and hitting onto plant and tree leaves where they form into flowers is very authentic looking and nicely captured. The coolest part though is watching the clones of the humans form out of the pods particularly the sequence showing Bennell’s clone coming to life while he sleeps. Seeing a dog with a human head is wild and Bennell’s destruction of a pod factory is also quite exciting. Denny Zeitlin’s electronic music score is distinctive, but not overplayed and effectively used at key moments although I did feel that there should have been some music played over the closing credits instead of just dead silence.

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Sutherland is good, but his 70’s style afro isn’t. The part where he tries in vain to warn various city officials of the impending invasion, but can make no headway is a perfect portrait of government bureaucracy and almost a horror movie in itself. Adams is beautiful and the way she can somehow make her eyeballs quiver has to be seen to be believed. Goldblum is fun as a brash struggling writer who never seems to know when to stop talking and has a conspiracy theory about everything. Cartwright plays a panicked woman better than anybody and Leonard Nimoy is solid in a sort of Spock-like role where the character believes everything must have a logical conclusion.

There are also some neat cameo appearances as well. Robert Duvall can be spotted at the beginning swinging on a swing. Kevin McCarthy who starred in the original steps into where he left off in the first one as a man running into traffic and warning motorists of the invasion. Don Siegal who directed the first film plays a cab driver and famous cinematographer Michael Chapman can be seen briefly as a janitor. Director Kaufman casts himself in a bit part as a man banging on the glass of a phone booth while Sutherland is making a call.

This movie is smart and stylish and in a lot of ways I liked it better than the original. The only real drawback is the fact that it becomes increasingly clear that these people aren’t going to escape and the drawn out chase sequence becomes more depressing and defeating than exciting.

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My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: December 20, 1978

Runtime: 1Hour 55Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Philip Kaufman

Studio: United Artists

Available: VHS, DVD

Into the Night (1985)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Insomniac gets into espionage.

Ed Okin (Jeff Goldblum) is an insomniac, who has a boring job and an unfaithful wife and is unexpectedly thrown into espionage and intrigue when a beautiful jewel smuggler named Diana (Michelle Pfeiffer) literally lands on his car in the middle of the night while he is out taking a drive.

If you are expecting the surreal, cult-like comedy of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours then you can forget it. This thing actually tries to play it straight and does it in a low key way that makes for a lot of slow stretches intermingled with some slight comedy and action.

It’s a pedestrian caper with some ‘novelties’ thrown into to try to get you to forget how pedestrian it really is. The novelties are director John Landis’s casting fellow directors in cameo roles. Sure it’s nice to put faces to names, but the cameos really aren’t that interesting or funny. Only French director Roger Vadim gets anything remotely flashy. In fact it’s Landis who gets the best part casting himself as a crazed gunman with a large scar on the side of his face.

Goldblum is a solid everyman, but he underplays it and eventual becomes too dull. He doesn’t even react when a loaded gun is put into his mouth!! Pfeiffer is beautiful, but there really isn’t any chemistry between the two so having them end up ‘falling in love’ shows just how contrived this whole thing is.

David Bowie and Dan Aykroyd have very little screen time and are badly wasted.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 22, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 55Minutes

Rated R

Director: John Landis

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD

Between the Lines (1977)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Newspaper get corporate takeover.

This is a look at an underground/counter-culture newspaper staff and the conflicts and concerns that they have at being taken over by a no-nonsense corporate owner (Lane Smith).

The film almost immediately takes you back to the bygone era of the late 70’s. The attitudes and conversations are realistic for that period and anyone who lived through it will most assuredly feel nostalgic .John Heard, Jeff Goldblum, and Bruno Kirby are engaging in their respective parts as is most of the cast. Stephen Collins is good also, but in an unusual role for him as he usually plays nice sensitive types, but here is a more driven, intense, and confrontational. This also works as a good unofficial statement to the death of the counter-culture movement and the eventual rise of materialism.

The story starts out well as it looks at the inside workings of an underground newspaper, but then spends too much of the middle part focusing on the relationships of some of the characters. Only at the end when the new owner takes over does it get back to the newspaper angle. Unfortunately it concludes just as things are getting interesting and we never get to see how the characters survive and adjust to the takeover. The film would have been much stronger and original had it stuck to scenarios involving the newspaper business and scrapped the relationship stuff, which tended to be derivative. Jon Korkes and Michael J. Pollard’s characters are seen too little and needed more screen time.

Also, when the film deals with the relationships there seems to be too much of a feminist bias as the men are always shown to be the ones at fault due to their ‘insensitive and selfish natures’ while the women come off the ones who are ‘reasonable and unfairly neglected’. This could be a product of the fact that it was directed by a woman as well as the era where men were somehow supposed to feel guilty simply because they were men.

This is fun as a time capsule as well as a great chance to see young stars in the making. However, the story does not take advantage enough of its original concept and ends up dealing with a lot of the same old scenarios and story lines that we’ve all seen before. Director Joan Micklin Silver and John Heard teamed up again two years later for Chilly Scenes of Winter, which I felt was better.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released:  April 27, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joan Micklin Silver

Studio: Midwest Films

Available: DVD (MGM Vault)