Tag Archives: Matt Dillon

Liar’s Moon (1980)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Couple harbors dark secret.

During the summer of 1949 in a small Texas town Jack (Matt Dillon), who has just turned 18, falls for Ginny (Cindy Fisher) who is 17. Jack is from the poor side of town and helps out his father (Hoyt Axton) on a family run farm while Ginny lives a more privileged life as the daughter of the town’s banker (Christopher Connelly) As Jack and Ginny’s relationship progresses they find stiff resistance to it from their mutual parents particularly Ginny’s father, but they don’t know why. In order to get married they go to Louisiana to elope, but Ginny’s father hires a detective (Richard Moll) to track them down and bring his daughter back no matter what the cost.

The one aspect about the movie that I did like is that it paints its small town characters in a generally positive light. Too many times movies that deal with stories that took place in a bygone era always seem to portray the characters as being more dopey than people of today, or more racist and meaner especially if it takes place in the south, but fortunately that doesn’t occur here. Instead we get shown regular, everyday people that you could easily meet today that just so happen to have lived a long time ago.

The film also has a nice leisurely pace to it and the romantic angle doesn’t seem quite as rushed, which is good, but the film also lacks finesse. The only part of the movie that has any atmosphere or cinematic flair is the opening flashback sequence, which gets done in black and white, while the rest of it pretty much flat lines. The scene where three men get royally drunk on some strong whiskey and another one where the town’s young men try to tackle a baby hog at the fair are the only times when there’s spontaneity or verve.

The story itself is too obvious and too many clues are given away, so by the time the ‘shocking’ secret get revealed you pretty much had guessed it way earlier. A few extra twists are thrown in during the final 15 minutes, but overall it becomes soap opera laden and too similar to the tragedy tinged teen romances of the 70’s that gives the whole thing a formulaic feel.

The eclectic cast is really the only interesting aspect about the film with Dillon giving a solid performance and Fisher looking quite beautiful even when she is constantly crying, which is pretty much all she does during the final third. Academy Award winning actor Broderick Crawford, whose last film this was, gets completed wasted in a pointless role that has very little screen time and the same goes for Yvonne De Carlo who speaks here in what sounds to be an Irish accent. Susan Tyrrell though is strong playing another one of her fringe characters, this time in the form of a prostitute, who comes off as cold and snarky at first, but eventually becomes surprisingly sympathetic.

Spoiler Alert!

Two different endings were filmed and distributed and which ending you saw depended on which theater you attended. One has the main character dying while the other one doesn’t, but both come-off as rather cheesy and make you feel like sitting through this thing really wasn’t worth it.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: September 2, 1982

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: David Fisher

Studio: Crown International Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video.

The Flamingo Kid (1984)

flamingo kid

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Get rich selling cars.

The year is 1963 and Jeffrey (Matt Dillon) is an 18-year-old still looking for direction. While working a summer job at the Flamingo Club he meets Phil Brody (Richard Crenna) who fills his head with big dreams of getting rich while selling cars. Jeffrey’s father (Hector Elizondo) wants him to go to college, but Jeffrey finds that idea to be boring and likes getting on the ‘fast-track’ to success better. After many arguments he finally moves out only to realize that Phil’s promises are empty and full-of-strings.

The movie is entertaining mainly because it manages to successfully suck you into a whole different time period. I loved the colorful cars with fins, the snazzy outfits and bouncy tunes. Most movies recreate a bygone era with an air of contempt about it, but this film makes the early ‘60s seem fun, nostalgic and full of opportunity. It also does a great job of exposing the different layers of American capitalism from those that feed off of it and exploit it, as with Crenna’s character, to those that are just happy to get by and not take any undue risks as with the father and then to the teens who are always convinced that attaining the American Dream is much easier than it really is.

The best part of the movie though is the way in analyzes the relationship between the son and father. So many movies seem to prefer looking at conflicts between mother and daughter, but fathers and sons can have just as many quarrels and this film delivers them in a way that is relatable and believable while also being a bit touching as well.

Dillon is terrific and I liked the way the character isn’t overly cocky or crude like in most ‘80s teen movies, but instead clumsy and socially awkward only to finally find the confidence when he needs it the most. Crenna is outstanding as is Elizondo, but I thought it was unusual that he got cast in the role since he is clearly Puerto Rican and Dillon, as is son, isn’t.

Jessica Walter as Crenna’s perpetually crabby wife is wasted even though she does look fine in a bikini despite already being in her mid-40s at the time of filming. Peter Costa is a scene stealer playing the same type of role that he later did in the ‘The Cosby Show’ as a shy child who doesn’t say anything, but still manages to get into everyone’s way.  John Turturro and Marisa Tomei can also be spotted in non-speaking bit parts.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Gary Marshall

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

 

 

 

Little Darlings (1980)

little darlings

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Competing to lose virginity.

Ferris (Tatum O’Neal) is a prissy girl from a rich family who attends summer camp along with Angel (Kristy McNichol) who’s more brash and streetwise. The two get into a competition to see who can lose their virginity first. The rest of the girls in the camp take sides and place bets.  Angel sets her sights on Randy (Matt Dillon) a cute boy from a neighboring boy’s camp while Ferris goes after Gary (Armand Assante) who is one of the adult camp counselors.

The film is for the most part okay and amounts to nothing more than a slice-of-life glimpse at adolescent girls and the snotty and sometimes peculiar ways that they perceive things. Most movies that portray this age group go too much to one extreme either by showing them as being overly bitchy or too innocent, but this film manages to find just the right balance making their conversations and overall scenarios believable and amusing.

I especially liked Krista Errickson as the spoiled and snobby drama queen Cinder. Normally these types of characters can be quite annoying and overplayed, but Errickson makes it fun and a major plus to the movie.

The film also has a few funny scenes including the one where the girls steal an entire condom dispensing machine from a men’s bathroom and then take it back to camp where they have to smash it with crowbars in order to finally open it. The massive food fight in the cafeteria is a hoot as well.

McNichol is excellent particularly with the way she can become teary-eyed seemingly on cue. I also enjoyed Alexa Kenin an engaging actress that died under mysterious circumstances at the young age of 23 who plays Dana here and helps ‘coach’ the two on what it is like to have sex. This also marks the film debut of Cynthia Nixon playing the hippie girl Sunshine.

The dramatic moments between Angel and Randy help give the film a little more depth and dimension, but also completely ruins the comic momentum. I also felt the film could have been funnier and didn’t take enough advantage of its setting or plot.

The Armand Assante character is another issue. Although he does not have sex with Ferris she does let it get around the camp that he did, which these days would have him fired and thrown into jail before he would even had a chance to defend himself. Although the girls do finally go and tell the truth later on I felt seeing him still working at the camp at the end while acting unblemished from it seemed to be a bit of a stretch.

I was also stunned that this film was given an R-rating. I realize the storyline is a bit titillating, but there is not nudity or sex shown as well as no violence or foul language. The sexual conversations that do occur are never explicit or crude and overall the film has an innocent quality to it.  13 and 14-year-olds do talk and think about sex as they certainly did when I was growing up and that shouldn’t make this an ‘adult movie’.  In fact I think young teens would be the ones to find this movie the most appealing as adults are likely going to consider it rather banal. The R-rating unfairly prevented the target audience from viewing it and showed just how misguided, useless and confusing the rating system can be.

This film has attained quite a cult following namely for the fact that it has never been released onto DVD and most likely never will. Part of the reason for it is because of its musical soundtrack and the licensing agreements that come with. There are some good tunes here including Ian Matthew’s ‘Shake It’ that opens the film as well as Blondie’s ‘One Way or Another’. Unfortunately other classic rock songs that were on the theatrical version failed to make it onto VHS, which is the only format this film can currently be seen on.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: March 21, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated R

Director: Ronald F. Maxwell

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS