Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Guilty Pleasures - An adventure in Film.

One of my great passions is film and each year I spend about 2 weeks at the Sydney Film Festival focused on films of cultural signficance and quality drama as well as the impressive array of documentaries on show. I love the range of experiences provided and seek out a variety of film over the year.

My guilty pleasure is an immersion in fun, popular quirky romantic comedies. To be specific the eighties romantic comedies (and one nineties extension) starring John Cussack. This passion was fuelled first by the influx of video stores (that allowed these films to be imprinted on the psyche of my then young soul) and consequently the release of DVDs. The mindless indulgence is pure fun and takes me back to the late high school/early university days when all-night video watching with stacks of friends was a common weekend event.

My fab five films are

First up is the crass and truly obvious "The Sure Thing" which telegraphs its conclusion well in advance. The journey is well-handled by light direction from Rob Reiner and great believable (as they get) performances by Cussack and Daphne Zuniga

Second (And probably my original favourite) is the wonderfully dark "Better off Dead" directed and written by "Savage" Steve Holland who later went on to direct 13 episodes of Lizzie McGuire (you will recognise the cartoons). A quirky ridiculous set of characters populate this movie and Cussack embodies the High School misfit dumped by his girlfriend who attempts suicide. A highlight is the amazingly agressive paperboy "I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS". This film will either make you laugh yourself silly or cringe. A highlight (I have included video below) is the guys who commentate their impromptu street drag racing as Howard Cosell) . It perhaps hasn't aged well and is full of some cringe-worthy stereotypes..but the darkness surpasses the flaws.

Third up is the reuniting of Holland and Cussack in the not quite as successful but still great fun "One Crazy Summer". This time he is joined by a group of misfits, labelled as "Hoops" but with no basketball talent and trying to challenge the rich kids on an island during summer. More twisted and dark cartoons and an insane race and you will again laugh yourself silly. Demi Moore is his love interest.

Fourth is the incredible "Say Anything" with Ione Skye and directed by Cameron Crowe (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Singles, Almost Famous). A true romantic comedy where Cussack plays Lloyd Dobbler a more mature leading man whose performance breaks your heart. A film that has become a video and DVD classic this film will forever be tied in my head to the heart-wrenchingly beautiful Peter Gabriel Song "In Your Eyes". A film for every lover of romantic comedy.

The final installment (an updated intelligent and much more recent outing) is Grosse Pointe Blank that follows Martin Blank (Contract Killer) back to his 10 year high school reunion and the girl he abandoned on Prom Night. The absurdity where he tells everyone that asks what he does for a living (and they think he is joking) is one of the highlights. The brilliant 80's soundtrack, the incredibly violent episodes within the perfectly ordered lawns and society. You will laugh yourself silly. The relationship with his psychiatrist, his assistant (ably portrayed by sister Joan) and fellow Killer (Dan Ackroyd) is comedic gold. An absolute favourite (I watch it regularly). It channels the eighties teen romantic comedies tinged with darkness that I matured on. Cussack was part of the script-writing team (He went on to co-write High Fidelity as well). Special mention to the convincing friend performance from the wonderful Jeremy Piven (now of Entourage fame)

I have linked the trailer for Grosse Pointe Blank and a Howard Cosell moment from "Better off Dead" to whet your appetite. Hopefully this will inspire a few to watch these films (or even watch them again) and be added to the odd favourite list here or there.

Grosse Pointe Blank

Better Off Dead (Howard Cosell Commentary)


Rose Red said...

I don't think I've seen any of these, except Grosse Point Blank. I must address this failing!!

(my fave films from my youf are the more obvious Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing!!)

DrK said...

ah 'say anything'! now that brought back some memories. and GPB is just brilliant. i really love hi fidelity too. great list!

LynS said...

There are periods of my life when wonder just what I was doing (working and raising kids, I guess). I've seen none of these movies - Grosse Point Blank is the only one I even remember having heard of. I'm also a John (and Joan) Cusack fan, but my associations for him don't include any of these.

Nevertheless, I enjoy your posts on movies.