I went to bed like dis.
I don’t know about you but my Friday is going VERY well. @wch_foundation
- MIKEY NICHOLSON
Got my nostalgia on for this edition of #365films2014 with classics such as Little Monsters, Beetlejuice, The Secret Garden and Drop Dead Fred to name but a few.
'Cinematheque' at the Mercury Cinema presented The Player as well as Dr Strangelove OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Coming soon: A MUSICAL EDUCATION.
- July 24 -
197/365 Down and Out in Beverly Hills 
Could Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte really share their screen time in a film about the homeless making it big with Californian socialites? Of course! It’s the 80s.
Jerry Baskin (Nolte) is at home on the streets of Beverly Hills until Dave Whiteman (Dreyfuss) and his wife Barbara (Midler) “adopt” him after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in their swimming pool. SO ZANY.
Hilarity ensues when Baskin sleeps his way around the Whiteman house, including the maid, and throws a spanner in the works for Dave and his picture perfect life that is less than perfect.
Down and Out in Beverly Hills is the type of film that pops up on TV at midday and you’ll promise yourself to switch it off at the next ad but you’re still there when ‘The End’ magically materialises on the screen.
(2 and a half stars)
- July 27 -
198/365 Airheads 
File Airheads under the list of films that would not and could not exist in the year 2014. The internet alone has turned the music industry on its head and the stubborn honchos at major labels still seem to struggle with the idea that consumer habits are evolving daily.
Chazz (potentially wig wearing Brendan Fraser), Rex (Steve Buscemi) and Pip (Adam Sandler) are a bunch of burn outs that want to make it big with their band The Lone Rangers. How do you make it big in the 90s?
1.Get played on the biggest radio station
2. People hear your song
3. Get signed to record label
LA logic right there my friend.
A cavalcade of stars cameo along the way for the absurd ride that is holding a radio station hostage while waiting for them to play your record or tape or whatever people from the past recorded music on.
Also, Michael Richards will never not be Kramer.
- July 28 -
199/365 Drop Dead Fred 
Without wanting to disrespect the dead, I feel there must be a requirement of loving the work of Rik Mayall to truly appreciate his ability as an actor person. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never experienced Blackadder or The Young Ones…DON’T HATE ME.
So now that that’s out of the way.
Phoebe Cates stars as Lizzie Cronin who has just about had enough of the shit life has served up to her within the first five minutes of the film – losing her car, her husband and her job. Her world takes an hilarious turn when her destructive imaginary friend Fred (Rik Mayall) returns.
Mayall clearly steals the show with his absurdist style and while no one would have predicted Cates to have such a great physical comedy presence, the film itself is kind of blah.
Drop Dead Fred fared well at the box office as an independent film but made its name being a cult memory for children who grew up in the 90s. That’s what missed the mark for me, seeing it in 2014 out of context.
- July 29 -
200/365 Little Monsters 
They don’t make movies for kids like they used to. Well, maybe they do but they’re hoping we won’t notice that plots for über popular Pixar titles (I’m looking at you Monsters, Inc.) are more than a nod to 80s classics.
Little Monsters, like every thing else in the 80s, stars Fred Savage as gawky Brian Stevenson. Brian’s dealing with the worst thing a child can go through ever in their entire short-lived life – growing up and parent’s separating.
Enter 11-year-old monster Maurice (American Deal or No Deal’s Howie Mandel).
While Drop Dead Fred’s Fred is a figment of imagination, Maurice and his band of monsters are very much real and living under the beds of humans the world over trying to scare children, kind of like the main plot point of Monsters, Inc. Hmmmmm.
The monsters only come out at night because light turns them into piles of clothes but also makes for cute scenes with scaries collapsing into laundry.
All of the kids, including Savage’s adorable real life little brother Ben, don’t come across as too precocious and although Maurice grates, the ending will have you checking the room for someone cutting onions.
The soundtrack is so on point too - zero cheesy kids songs with nothing but 80s hits.
(3 and a half stars)
- July 30 -
201/365 Beetlejuice 
Shocking, as it may seem, Beetlejuice wins the award for Tim Burton film that does NOT star his wife Helena Bonham-Carter or his second wife, Johnny Depp. For that, it’s a winner already. That’s not to say J-Depp and HBC are woeful at their craft, it’s more a statement on the recent feeling of “IT’S BEEN DONE BURTON” that his latest outings have garnered.
What a bloody marvelous world Burton has created in Beetlejuice! Adam and Barbara Maitland (a Ryan Gosling-esque young Alec Baldwin and the wonderful Geena Davis) suffer a fate worse than death…becoming ghosts in their own home. Catherine O’Hara, as haunted homeowner Deelia Deetz, is a pleasure as always and Winona Ryder does her best emo impersonation trying to be the voice of a generation.
The clearly dated special effects work in Beetlejuice’s favour as the pulpy nature of the entire experience calls for obvious blue screens and base level CGI.
Michael Keaton is a revelation as the title character in a role he was probably born to play but no one other than Burton could ever envisage him successfully pulling off (much the same as his earlier role in the classic Batman series).
Forget fraught-with-racial-danger ‘Around the World’ themed parties… gather your mates together for a night in Beetlejuice inspired get ups.
- July 31 -
202/365 The Player 
Director Robert Altman sure knows how to meta the shit out of a film whilst sending up the entire Hollywood industry, which frankly, is nothing to sneeze at.
The Player is a fantastic satirical look at how a caddish movie producer type, Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins), ducks and weaves his way through the minefield of job stealing colleagues, wannabe writers, and committing murder. Aside from constantly wanting to ask Robbins the obvious of question of why he and Susan Sarandon couldn’t make it work, he’s great at carrying The Player through the highs and lows of an hysterical pisstake.
The lesser players (hurr) are only less in screen time rather than quality. With actual acting, as opposed to cameo-ing, coming from heavyweights Whoopi Goldberg, a young and hairy Vincent D’Onofrio, Australia’s own Greta Scacchi, doe-eyed Cynthia Stevenson, Sydney Pollack and Lyle Lovett, the cast is second to none. And then there’s the avalanche of cameos peppered throughout – it’s enough to give IMDb and Wikipedia an extensive work out.
Altman spends so much of the film winking at the audience that it’s hard to tell if he ever had his eyes open, except for the fact that all of writer Michael Tolkins’ jokes land.
(4 and a half stars)
- August 1 -
203/365 A Little Princess 
Can we take a moment to talk about Alfonso Cuarón’s diversity as a director? Over a decade he directed A Little Princess, Great Expectations, Y tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Assassination of Richard Nixon. Come on Alfie! You’re making us all look bad.
For his adaption of the popular children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Cuarón doesn’t go big enough with the magic instead focusing on the foreign-ness of India while underutilising the talented young, supporting cast of orphaned characters. Lead Liesel Mathews is a cute kid but kind of irritates as recently bankrupt Sara Crewe. Although she wades through a pool of stellar orphans, Eleanor Bron steals the show as the wicked master of the house, Miss Minchin.
Part Oliver! or Annie without singing, part “Wow! Isn’t India so mystical?”, A Little Princess has a lot of charm but fails to translate into a legacy that requires mandatory viewing for every childhood.
- August 2 -
204/365 The Secret Garden 
Backing up Frances Hodgson Burnett’s little girl protagonist series, The Secret Garden is a beautifully crafted coming of age tale set against the old timey lush English countryside.
After her debaucherous parents die in India, Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) is dumped at a Yorkshire manor kept under thumb by the imposing Mrs. Medlock (Dame Maggie Smith). Colin Craven (Heydon Prowse) is hidden away in the manor, seemingly too ill to leave his bed or function in society. Well, Mary is having none of that, befriends the boy and helps him experience the beauty of the manor’s secret garden.
The score swells faster than the happy tears that develop by the time the credits roll. The Secret Garden is a fantastic modern adaptation of a much beloved classic.
- August 3 -
205/365 The Killer Inside Me 
As the credits rolled to Eddy Arnold’s ‘Shame On You’ it’s difficult to imagine the lyrics being directed at any one besides the people behind The Killer Inside Me. There’s so much nope here that it’s hard to know where to start.
The Killer that the title refers to is Lou Ford (Casey Affleck, for why??), a deputy sheriff who has a penchant for beating the absolute shit out of woman and leaving them for dead. Now there have been successful films that dealt with sickos such as American Psycho. The difference being that American Psycho makes comment on excess and the American Dream albeit being the work of a known dickbag, Bret Easton Ellis. I digress.
The Killer Inside Me uses Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson as barely speaking punching bags (so basically punching bags) for Lou Ford to channel his evil ways. Unfortunately, domestic violence IS a real problem in society and it’s not demonised, insane monsters doing the beatings but “loving”, “normal” fathers, husbands and boyfriends. A film like this does no favours for survivors and sufferers.
Winterbottom might have created a stylish looking film but the scenes of violence are so gratuituous you’ll want to close your laptop, skip your Blu-Ray or walk out of the cinema.
Shame on you Michael Winterbottom.
- August 4 -
206/365 Dr. Strangelove OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 
The combination of Kubrick and Peter Sellers is a match made in black comedy heaven, if that’s even a thing. Where the M*A*S*H film missed the mark, Dr. Strangelove OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb nails the satire of war.
Imagine a world where nuclear war is only a disgruntled General and incompetent government away from reality. Well, the Cold War is about to get a real injection in its arm thanks to the actions of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) and his no-turning-back order to the US Air Force – oh and they’re armed with nuclear bombs!
As to be expected, Sellers takes on the role of a number of characters with his usual hilarious aplomb. Whether he’s Dr. Strangelove suppressing his Nazi-isms or Captain Mandrake trying to collect call the President of the United States, he’s a consummate professional at making the audience shriek with laughter.
A young James Earl Jones makes his acting debut as nervous Lieutenant Lothar Zogg but it’s George C. Scott who steals the show as the patriotic, “commie” hating General Buck Turgidson which is a hard task to achieve when you’re sharing screen time with THREE Peter Sellerses.
- August 4 -
207/365 Single White Female 
Besides everything, the 90s were best at creating sexy thrillers perhaps because pre-internet people had to get their rocks off in the name of art. Enter Single White Female.
Allison Jones (Bridget Fonda aka The 90s Personified) is a stone cold fox, rocking Julia Gillard’s hair before even J-Gill knew what to do with it. Unfortunately for Ms. Jones she has a proclivity for attracting attention from bad people including potential husbands, clients and psychopathic housemates.
Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh aka The 90s Personified 2.0) …Oh come on, HEDRA? The writing was surely on the wall with a name like that… weasels her way into Allie’s apartment and before too long she’s already killed a dog, knocked out a guy, blown (non-consensually) the fiancé, and worse yet…ripped off Allie’s red bob look.
It’s amazing how terrifying a messed up new roomie can be even if it seems like the lamest plot development for a thriller. Also Fonda kicks some major ass to save the day.
(3 and a half stars)
- August 5 -
208/365 Enemy 
Director Denis Villenueve is responsible for one of the great modern thrillers from last year (Prisoners) and yet he still wanted to have more movie fun times with Jake Gyllenhaal. The result is doubling the Jake but dropping his game with the actual film.
Jake Gyllenhaal and what I can only determine to be Maggie Gyllenhaal wearing a beard, plays both Adam Bell and Anthony Claire, identical dudes roaming around the same city WHERE NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE?! In Adelaide, if two guys with similar hair walk past you assume Orphan Black protocol.
Tension mounts as both gentlemen struggle with their newfound doppelganger-itis and their partners, girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent) and wife Helen (Sarah Gadon), start getting the heebeejeebies.
Not to spoil the ending, but yah, we get metaphor.
Enemy wants so badly to be a critic darling but aside from the well crafted cinematography and bleak Toronto skyline, it’s all too ho-hum.
(2 and a half stars)
- August 6 -
209/365 Buried 
Five minutes in you’ll need to check your claustrophobia at the door or you won’t survive the next eighty-five minutes. Buried is not for the faint hearted but if you’re easily bored strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride.
Ryan Reynolds is the unlikely leading buried man, trapped six feet under with nothing but a mobile phone, knife and sheer will keeping him alive.
Buried is a clever concept on paper – how can you set an entire film in a coffin and keep the audience’s attention? And director Rodrigo Cortes does well with the story development. What felt unnecessary is the backstory of a civilian worker in a war torn region being ambushed by EVIL BROWN TERRORISTS and then buried alive. Cliché cliché cliché. There’s no reason Buried couldn’t have thought outside the box (hurrr) for plot points.
Oh and the ending…I mean really?
(3 and a half stars)
- August 7 -
210/365 Grey Gardens 
HBO Films have a knack at attracting big names to star in their made for TV films which elevates a pedestrian outing into must see content. Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange are not to be sneezed at. Their star power is second to none and watching them faff around as Big Edie and Lil’ Edie, the famed Bouvier mother/daughter combo, is a sight to behold – they’re so damn watchable.
Billed as a story about Jackie O’s relatives, Grey Gardens rides off the coattails of interest in anything Kennedy related but also why wouldn’t people be fascinated about a rich couple of eccentric broads in a dilapidated mansion?
In 1975, a Grey Gardens documentary was released and this film version takes a look at the lead up to its premiere. Drew Barrymore acts her face off earning a Golden Globe and an Emmy in the process and Lange could sit around doing nothing and it would still be worth it.
(3 and a half stars)
- August 8 -
211/365 El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) 
Murder/rape crime dramas are a dime a dozen, but El secreto de sus ojos takes a different approach to keep the genre feeling fresh.
Skipping between modern day and the 70s, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) is the lead investigator of a young woman’s brutal murder and rape but constantly finds hurdles between catching the killer and helping the victim’s husband find justice for his wife. Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil) is a total boss human as the voice of reason in the law offices or something, who really knows what people do in legal bureaucracy?
While rape plot lines are tired and overused and there is a graphic scene to really drill home the horriblessness of it all, the rest of the investigation has enough twists and turns to keep even the most criminally fascinated viewers intrigued.