Movie of the Week: The Lost Boys (1987)

Joel Schumacher directs Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric and Corey Haim in this Eighties teen vampire horror comedy.

Last time I revisited The Lost Boys, I thought I had outgrown it. There was something about its slightness and style over substance that left me cold. A VHS I watched many times as a kid had become a toy not worth playing with in adulthood. Yet it popped up on a hotel late night channel, and I decided to introduce Natalie to it. And we had fun. The horror is diluted down… only a bonfire attack feels bloody enough to hold its head up in the era that gave us The Evil Dead and Re-Animator. The comedy is a bit more serviceable. It can be witty, gloopy, camp, hysterical. The kids sell the gags better than the scares. Whatever the generic deficiencies are, The Lost Boys is all about attitude. Jack Daniels soaked rocker, comic book reading, rundown boardwalk rides, sax rocker sweat mood. The film has a hazy, ominous, electric feel. The soundtrack and score helps. Foreboding yet headbanging. “CRRRRYYY LITTLE SISTER!… (thou shall not fall)”. The cast is variable. Yet Dianne Weist, Edward Herrmann, Corey Feldman and Nanook the dog all make a little out of a lot. Star of the show is Kiefer though, the leather vamp who sells the seductive tragedy of being an undead immortal. He joshingly tricks us with his Chinese banquet of maggots and worms, bristles into action at a flick of a switch and cries a solitary heartfelt tear when sunlight burns him. He and Schumacher did stronger work in Flatliners, but The Lost Boys is their iconic triumph. And the film has one of the best final lines of dialogue in blockbuster history.

8

My Top 10 Vampire Movies

1. Near Dark (1987)

2. Let the Right One In (2008)

3. Waxworks (1988)

4. Nosferatu (1922)

5. What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

6. The Lost Boys (1987)

7. The Hunger (1983)

8. 30 Days of Night (2007)

9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

10. Dracula (1931)

Advertisements

Wakefield (2016)

Robin Swicord directs Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Garner and Victoria Bruno in this drama where a lawyer goes “missing”, hiding out and spying on his wife for months in the attic of their garage.

A strange unclassifiable film… if I were pushed I would say the film is It’s a Wonderful Life x Rear Window – Jimmy Stewart. Cranston sells an often despicably self-centred character with conniving aplomb. Swincord works within the strict limitations of the concept deftly. There are thrilling moments, sad moments, funny moments. It is a bit too well crafted to become a cult classic… but Wakefield is one of the more unique movies to come out of Hollywood this decade.

8

Thieves Like Us (1974)

Robert Altman directs Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall and John Schuck in this relaxed crime story about three Depression era jailbreakers who go back to bank robbing.

Long before Reservoir Dogs, this was the heist film utterly disinterested in showing the robbery. Instead we sit in the period accurate jalopies listening to the radio, enjoy many Coca Colas (the movie has such constant product placement that the drink almost becomes a character in its own right), hangout in beaten up hide-outs. It is a nothing movie, just happy to let its ensemble hang around. But this produces some lovely moments; Carradine adopts a mutt under the railway tracks, the criminals teach the kids how to act in a robbery, a prison warden greedily eats a banquet lunch while a disguised Carradine waits on him. Inessential but well made.

6

Eureka (1983)

Nicolas Roeg directs Gene Hackman, Theresa Russell and Rutger Hauer in this violent mystery about a gold prospector who later gives up on life when the mafia become interested in the island paradise he has bought and his sexy heiress daughter marries a cad.

Whoah! This is about as existentially bleak as cinema gets. A movie of moments… big, indelible colour scream shock moments! Don’t expect a straightforward or generically consistent narrative. We start in the wastelands of the freezing Klondike in conflict. Strike it rich. Then enter a dying fantasy involving a tree of life and witch’s hovel / poorly located brothel. Hackman sells the determination and despair of a man of action in these sequences. His gruff manliness becomes achingly vulnerable to the deadly elements, his macho aggression is broken down by the hopelessness of his greed. That’s Act One. We then get into gangsters, playboys, familial sexual jealousy, a voodoo sex orgy, a murder with blowtorch and machete. We are not certain if this is Hackman’s death dream still (the bloody feathers and hardwood backing board of a key scene visually match his weakened snowy moments of surrender in the wasteland). The third act is a recreation of a real life court case. The victim’s brutalised body becomes a blow-up poster. Both evidence and grisly witness to the proceedings. Justice is subverted and the witness box is used to make power plays, discuss love and fidelity. It feels like the end of a different film… although does give us more screentime with Russell and Hauer – both of whom are as hot as ever. As with all of Roeg’s time hopping, discombobulated works, Eureka is hard to get a true grip on in first watch. But for all its spectacular ungainlyness it is a violent, steamy, well acted experience. You don’t walk away from the cinema feeling you haven’t seen something. Something unique, something cinematic.

7

My Top 10 Gene Hackman Movies

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

2. The Conversation (1974)

3. Reds (1981)

4. The French Connection (1971)

5. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

6. Unforgiven (1992)

7. The Quick and the Dead (1995)

8. Superman (1978)

9. Heist (2000)

10. Bonnie and Clyde (1968)

Kinetta (2005)

Yorgos Lanthimos directs Aris Servetalis, Evangelia Randou and Costas Xikominos in this art film where a trio of malcontents film deadpan recreations of assaults.

Impenetrable and unrewarding.

2

The Little Hours (2017)

Jeff Baena directs Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and John C. Reilly in this anachronistic farce involving medieval nuns behaving badly – based in part on The Decameron.

I had high expectations for this. A great cast getting up to surreal, goofy shit in vestments and wimples. Yet the film has one joke – classical plot played out with modern voices and self awareness. The end result is fine to look at but tiring… imagine a 90 minutes long SNL sketch. You can’t, you wouldn’t, no one could. The quality of the comedy actors keeps this from being a collosal waste of an afternoon.

4

On the Basis of Sex (2018)

Mimi Leder directs Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer and Cailee Spaeny in this biopic of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – future Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Slick, rote and with any quirk or grit smoothed off to a sheeny polish. Only the very likeable leads and timely subject matter stop this from being utterly forgettable. Shame as Felicity Jones AND Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserve better.

5

Black Tide (2018)

Érick Zonca directs Vincent Cassell, Romain Duris and Sandrine Kiberlain in this cop thriller where an alcoholic detective tries to solve the case of a missing teen with blundering aggression.

The clever mystery plot could be from an Ian Rankin or Colin Dexter novel. Cassell engages in some Bad Lieutenant style naughtiness while trying to solve it… getting drunk on duty, fucking suspects, stalking others. Duris keeps you guessing with a creepy flat performance as the neighbour with a suspicious secret. It just never catches fire, while a subplot involving Cassell’s wayward son feels incompetently abandoned.

5

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Christopher Landon directs Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard and Phi Vu in this sequel to Happy Death Day where Tree finds herself choosing to reloop to stop a reality altering machine from trapping her in a new existence.

OK… not that the first one was the pinnacle of entertainment but a little bit of the charm is lost here. The horror elements get shunted back into the background, the plot gets lost up its own bum and Rothe is relegated to a mawkish subplot that occupies her screentime while others have fun. It still all is brightly watchable but when you have such a strong comedy lead to play with it seems a shame to shackle her with a whole lotta dead mom moping about.

5

Marshall (2017)

Reginald Hudlin directs Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad and Kate Hudson in this true story where the legendary civil rights lawyer takes on a complex rape / attempted murder case.

A dreary attempt to lionise a historical figure whose successes and victories need no imbellishments. Why this particular court case was chosen is baffling? Thurgood Marshall is relegated to mere supporting character in his own story due to a legal loophole. From the sidelines of the action Boseman is too calm a performer to distract from the other actors around him. And what it all boils down to is another Hollywood film about a woman lying about being raped. And there, gallingly, seems to be far more of those produced than ones where a sexually assaulted woman is believed. A biopic of little merit beyond its solid production values.

3