Avid fan of music and 80’s nostalgia

That’s part of the tagline I gave myself in replying to this article from our local Pop [Culture] Blogger in the local paper.

http://blogs.thepoconos.com/pop-rox/2011/08/02/happy-birthday-mtv-you-dont-look-a-day-over-29/

I liked what I read so much and agreed with so many things that I simply had to email him a reply, saying how much I appreciated him addressing an issue that was bugging me early last week.
Young people don’t know what the hell they have, more prominently, what they used to have

And he was very on point by saying MTV did a horrible thing by scraping and forgetting about the “old fogeys” that grew up on the channel and gearing everything towards the new, up and coming generation.

It might be a little harsh to say this, but my honest to God opinion, the up & coming generation sucks because they have no taste.
And this isn’t because they favor people who can’t carry a note or Justin Bieber (not to say that isn’t a pet peeve of mine as well, but I’m not about to lump them all into one category)… it’s because they would rather see cat fights, brawls and foul-mouthed adolescents taking part in explicit activities normally frowned upon by everyday society
eh, explicit might be a little harsh, so I’m just gonna go with the “frowned upon by everday society” bit to wrap it all together

and of course, part of me thought to send in the comment because I had to be a stickler about one tiny detail.
Pretty much everyone I know, no matter what generation they’re in, gives full credit for the Renassiance period of MTV to Michael Jackson… but what I had to counteract was him saying that the “fun era” began in 1984… but the color barrier came crossing down the year before. Sure, it’s one year, but in the 80’s, a year makes a helluva difference

I started writing that part of my reply (the postscript) and found that I had to double-check on Wikipedia to be sure I had the dates right. I wrote originally that the fun era began with the release of “Thriller” the music video… truth: the video came out in 1984, but the color barrier was brought down by “Billy Jean”

Me personally, because I’m so hugely in favor of Prince getting his due, I had to write that Prince had his share in breaking barriers… ending with the sentiment that all three parties are all the better for their efforts.

MTV helped make Prince’s career and counterintutively, Prince and Michael Jackson made MTV what it became… a monster of unforeseen proportions

’tis a sad, sad day when the voices of the majority changes the will of an entire network…
and I’m not talking politics, thank you very much.

so that’s how I started my day.

Yesterday was one of the fullest days I’d had in a while, or so it started out that way.

I have officially seen all of the Brat Pack movies this year within the past 6 months.

First of all, I want to address “Real Genius,” which I figured I’d watch cuz it was on last night on VH1 Classic… and I was there to not only estimate Val Kilmer in one of his earlier roles (comedic at that) and by the end, I would have a side to stand on with the Weird Science/Real Genius debate

I believe Chuck the Movie Guy was the interviewer at the time, but I came away with one of two Downey/Kilmer interviews for “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” that Chuck and Val thought that “Real Genius” was a classic and more memorable as such than “Weird Science”…
to which, Robert was hugely out of sorts about

“what about ‘Weird [goddam] Science'”

I can safely say that this time around, my preference isn’t just Downey-bias… it’s so much more than that…

the fact remains, as strange and unbelievable both movies are, that I prefer “Weird Science” to “Real Genius”

RG goes a little like this:
starts with a video of a prototype weapon for the US govt and this scientist is out to bring it to the authorities for fame and fortune.
He picks 15-year old science whiz Mitch from a high school science fair, enlists him in college where he and Val Kilmer’s character, Chris Knight, are to develop a high intensity laser for him.
Hilarity ensues in a couple mediums: a rivalry between the scientist’s original team and the new time of Chris & Mitch that deals out a lot of sabotage, the mystery of the bearded dude who disappears in Chris & Mitch’s dormroom closet and all kinds of weird science actually happens… one scene where ice and snow fills the hallway of the dorm on which Chris Knight is on ice skates and Mitch’s future love interest Jordan slides down in a chair modified into a sled

after developing the laser, the two guys discover that it might be used for some government weapon… no doubt to be used in the Cold War (it was 1985 after all)… they sneak into the high security area (kinda like Area 51 without the aliens) and with the help of Lazlo (the dude who has a hideaway space in the basement, connected to the dorm room closet) and Jordan, they hack into the laser, programming it to shot into the scientist’s house…
in which, they put a giant alumnium bag full of popcorn (those paying attention in an earlier scene know that this guy HATES popcorn)

now I axe ya, how believable is this piece of work…
a scientist enlisting a couple of kids to build a laser for him that could be used a weapon of mass destruction?
get real…

that isn’t to say that WS has its share of… well, weird science, that makes no goddam sense… “that chick that comes out of nowhere” for starters… all of the sheningans that go down at the house because of her presence…

for me, the logic of RG and its script in general was barely decipherable. I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, so at least props to Val Kilmer for making it through that script with such finesse…
but on the whole, WS is much more memorable and it makes a helluva coming of age story, so I’d more likely cast that as an 80’s classic than RG

Not to say the movie was bad, I managed to make it through all right with most of my attention span entact (given it was VH1 Classic and it lasted 2.5 hours with commericals every half hour)… but “Weird Science” strikes me as the better movie

Years ago, when I was in my teens, I was crazy about Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club, so I made it my mission to see all of the Brat Pack movies, especially John Hughes’ works because there is definitely a charm about his movies that kept me coming back to those two over and over again.

now, how you define a Brat Pack movie is totally up to your personal preference.
Wikipedia lists a large number of them, including a decent list of borderline contributions

in his interview with Dave Letterman in 1995 (where he’s clearly whacked out on black tar, but I’m past the whole “judging” thing), he was asked if he was a member of the Brat Pack and they decided that he was a bit of an outside member…

there’s a very fine line between who I believe was a Brat Packer and what I believe are Brat Pack movies

by my line of ideal logic, I wouldn’t say that Rob Lowe was a member because his most prominent role was in “St. Elmo’s Fire” (the film I wanted to get around discussing at some point in this entry)

the top bar on the chart that has the names of the most prominent members includes Emilio Estavez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, and Andrew McCarthy. Then there’s a column for “close contributers”… including the likes of James Spader, John Cusak, Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen

this is me personally, so if there’s a point of “I beg to differ,” don’t take too much offence because this is my opinion.

My primary criteria for a Brat Pack movie is that it was written and/or directed in the 80’s by John Hughes.
So Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club would automatically make my list.

Ferris Bueller, I don’t really see as such because none of the actors were primary Brat Pack members. WarGames is listed on the cusp because of Ally Sheedy’s inclusion, both star Matthew Broderick

A couple of the movies on the list, I hadn’t seen or heard of.
But for the major Brat Pack movies, the must-sees, they have to have at least three actors from the Brat Pack or two plus a writing/directing credit from John Hughes (otherwise, this would rule out Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles)

The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire have the most primary members and some of them make the list period BECAUSE of St. Elmo’s Fire

The Outsiders is the first movie listed because it came out first and because of Rob Lowe and Emilio Estavez, it is listed as a Brat Pack movie…
as much as I love this movie, I don’t believe that for a second… in fact, it’s almost ridiculous. Emilio was in a quite a few Brat Pack movies (John Hughes made his career, something he’s kinda turned his back on and is spending the majority of his time in the director’s chair these days)

it only includes those two actors and they’re in minor roles… you only see maybe 20 minutes of Sodapop and Two-bit combined… the movie mostly revolves around C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy) and Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio)… Matt Dillion sees more screentime as Dally than Rob and Emilio but together

I’d also like to debunk Demi Moore as a member of the Brat Pack because she was only in St. Elmo’s Fire and because it has Judd, Ally and Emilio, she gets into the club mostly by association

according to the article, the group’s name was coined in 1985 because of St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club…
in the end, I think it’s all about who’s directing and who’s in the movie with you… as well as the impact of the movie itself

it’s sort of funny how several of Robert’s 80’s films were noted as borderline Brat Pack movies

Because of John Hughes and Anthony Michael Hall, I have no doubt that applies to Weird Science.

because of his roles in St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink, Andrew McCarthy is a member, not a doubt in my mind. I don’t see a bunch of his movie credits as Brat Pack movies, but the fact he costars with Molly Ringwald more than once certainly gives him more credit than Demi Moore, who just did movies with Rob Lowe and Emilio

through association, I most certainly would add Less than Zero to the list of Brat Pack movies… because it somewhat marketed that way. One review I read said that it geared towards Brat Pack fans, but addressed much more serious matters… and as much it grieves me to admit it, James Spader’s inclusion makes it all the more legit as a Brat Pack film. Because he played villian to Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink as well

Johnny be Good is extremely borderline… Downey has a small credit in it as the best friend of Anthony Michael Hall, and plus it includes the principal from The Breakfast Club… but I’m led to seriously doubt its inclusion

Being in The Pick-up Artist makes him all the more borderline as a member because his love interest is Molly Ringwald, something that I believe counts for a lot.
Seeing as she was John Hughes’ most prized heroine.

He has two credits with Anthony Michael Hall (one of them being with John Hughes), one with Molly Ringwald and one with Andrew McCarthy (and again, consequently, James Spader)… so by association with Brat Pack associates and John Hughes himself, he is most certainly one worthy of mention.

In fact, he probably thought his image was most definitely Brat Pack because he buried his clothes from “Less than Zero” as a way of breaking out of that mold and moving forward as an actor (giving his A-Oscar-worthy-game to “Chaplin”)

there was one thing I learned yesterday that had me rethinking a lot of things that I thought I knew…

I always knew that St. Elmo’s Fire was a Brat Pack movie because that’s why I had wanted to see it… but I was under the impression that it was a John Hughes movie… I saw the opening credits and not even a mention of him under writing or directing… I’m like WTF, I thought this was a John Hughes movie

and it wasn’t the same mistaken identity crisis I hit when I watched “Peggy Sue Got Married,” thinking it was a John Hughes film cuz I heard the title associated with him… didn’t see him mentioned anywhere… and I realized months after the fact that I was thinking of “Curly Sue”…
ugh… Peggy Sue Got Married was horrible… or at least I didn’t think it was all that great. The charm I was looking for wasn’t there (all the more hinting I made a mistake in identity) and I dunno, I don’t like Nicholas Cage in goofy, comedic roles… just rubs me the wrong way.

all the more reason I didn’t like him in anything until I saw him in National Treasure… he makes a helluva better action/adventure star than a love interest in a rom-com

I literally thought that St. Elmo’s Fire was a John Hughes film because it gets lumped together with all the Brat Pack movies… maybe I thought Brat Pack movies were all John Hughes movies…

it most definitely is a Brat Pack movie, but wouldn’t go as far to say that their inclusion in it makes Rob Lowe or Demi Moore primary members

I believe I first saw it when I was 16-17… around the same time I saw Pretty in Pink if not a couple years before/after… Pretty in Pink lacked the John Hughes charm I saw in Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club… but when it came to St. Elmo’s Fire, I was rewatching it and was wondering if I had really seen the whole thing at all…

the only thing I really remembered was the scene where Demi Moore locks herself in her apartment and has all of the windows open… funny how I remember the dramatic scenes best in this movies (same was true for Purple Rain, other than the final musical numbers, the basement scene was the only other thing that stuck with me)…
and when I started watching it and I saw Emilio in busboy uniform, that was another image I remembered quite well

but the more I watched, I started to wonder if I had seen the whole movie at all way back when because none of it was really familiar… Emilio Estavez was probably the only castmember that primarily stuck with me

my mind went on a heck of a journey throughout this movie as I was estimating the different storylines (once I was finally able to keep track of them… 7 people is a lot to pay attention to, John Hughes did it right with 5), the different characters and the whole package.
My aunt suggested that I rewatch this and Pretty in Pink and to give her my take on them… seeing as she thinks my opinion is worth listening to in some cases, I guess because when it comes to 80’s nostalgia and things I’m passionate about, I can sometimes come up with the most interesting and thought-provoking analyses

she was probably put under this impression when I sent an email after a party really going into detail about why I thought Prince was so amazing… I have yet to take her advice on checking into Jim Morrison (who she deemed a true poet of his generation), but at least I made good on this one.

It had been at least 5 years since I saw either movie last… I had a blatant dislike for both, but I handled it democratically in my mind… saying that maybe I wasn’t old enough to really appreciate the movies or too young to understand them.

It could be a combination of a couple of things (my age, my current situation of joblessness) but with the case of this movie, I’m very inclined to believe I was right… I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the movie when I was still in high school… by the end of the movie, I concluded that I thought it was awesome…
not Breakfast Club awesome, but definitely better than my first impression

Going in, I knew the following:
Emilio Estavez, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe were in it. The final member of the 7 was an actress I don’t believe I’d heard of before (Mare Winningham).
And RDJ was considered for the role that went to Rob Lowe

and it was up to me to figure out where each of them figured into the scheme of things. Primarily, who was coupled with who.

The opening credits show all of them in graduation caps and gowns. (so immediately I’m having “Less than Zero” flashbacks… or flashforwards, seeing as that movie came 2 years later)… and it starts with them at the emergency room because two of them got into a car accident.
Already I’m panicking that someone already died… luckily that wasn’t the case.

Billy (Rob Lowe) was drunk and got him and Wendy (Mare Winningham) into the car accident.
At the hospital, Emilio’s character Kirby sees Dale, a girl he had a crush on working there (she was a senior when he was a freshman)… immediately I did a double-take, wondering if I heard right… and I did… probably the first time I’d heard of a character in a movie with that name makes me wonder if Kirby was named after this character or someone else his parents knew

Billy and Wendy are somewhat of an item, which makes for an interesting combination because he’s the bad boy with some personal baggage and she’s the shy virigin from the good family. They end up separating because Billy is so curious to hear about Wendy’s sexual status and offends her. But of course, by the end, both see that they really care about each other and get past that.

for a REALLY nice change of pace, Judd Nelson plays the clean-cut guy who’s in love with Ally Sheedy (you’d think the two of them would make a great couple in The Breakfast Club as well because they seem to have a mutual unspoken understanding of each other)…
first of all, I am immediately blown away that Judd Nelson cleans up as good as he does… I’m almost thinking about Robert in “Weird Science,” because aside from his weirdly colored hair (WS again), they have their physical similarities and their characters react the same when their buttons are pushed… guilty as charged, I spent the majority of their first scenes imagining Robert in place of Judd

I never would have thought he could be good looking after seeing him as the bad-boy in The Breakfast Club but I guess I should see that movie again soon and see if this newfound apprecation takes me somewhere

there are a couple of running “jokes” (or rather plot points) that takes us through the movie:
Alec (Judd) wanting to marrry Leslie (Ally)
Billy constantly being out of work (in his big scene with Demi Moore, he says he was fired 20 times)
Kirby pursing Dale to the point he quits his job as busboy and takes up one housesitting for a millionaire, believing that money makes the man and she’s more likely to be into him because of his monetary status

as shocking as it was to see Judd Nelson in a clean-cut role, it was even more so for Andrew McCarthy… who is always the clean-cut good-natured character that acts as a moral conscience, plays one that is somewhat troubled and depressed (although not to the point of Julian and certainly not the point of Rob Lowe’s character)… theories start to come about regarding his low mood between the fact he hadn’t had sex in a couple years and that maybe he’s gay…

the latter is most definitely a running joke that takes place through most of the movie, Leslie being under the impression he has a secret crush on Alec (when he’s really in love with her)… and there’s also a scene where he walks down prostitute row and when he asks a girl why she didn’t ask him, she said that she thought he was gay because she never sees him with anybody

All in all, Andrew always plays a guy with a good heart… due to a couple of additional inferences, I truly believe that his characters can do no wrong… in Pretty in Pink, he plays a richie hottie that is so sweet and kind that you’re almost doing a double-take, where you don’t believe anyone can be as such given what he has going for him…
the same situation of skepticism takes place in “She’s out of my league”… where beautiful, smart and funny Molly is into Kirk, the nerdy, socially awkward TSA guy

As pathetic as it was that I didn’t realize that this movie wasn’t written/directed by John Hughes, it took me even longer to realize that the characters were college graduates and not high school grads… I was totally under the impression they were still high schoolers… maybe because the graduation caps had me thinking of “Less than Zero” or because every other Brat Pack movie takes place in or around high school or going to college

all the more reason why the scenarios finally a lot more sense and why it took until now for me to really understand and appreciate its contents

I knew she was a cast member, but it took me a minute or two to ID Demi Moore under that 80’s hair-do… except for the fact and her voice, she’s almost unrecognizable… then again, the first time I saw her in a movie was “Ghost” and she had that tomboy short-short haircut…
in fact, I’d never seen her hair that color either…
definitely an 80’s do and yeah, Jami Gertz in “Less than Zero” kinda jumped to mind here as well as the hair was very similar in both cases

edit:
interestingly, Demi was nearly fired from this film because she was using drugs on set… this I never would have figured if I hadn’t looked up the movie for trivia facts and such. Definitely makes for a more convincing performance, but like Robert as Julian, I don’t think it’s recommended for someone to get that much into their role

Jules lives in an apartment with really pink walls, like to the point you wouldn’t believe they’d exist outside of a movieset… and there’s a painting on one wall that, I think, looks like Billy Idol, but it could as easily have been David Bowie… she spends part of the movie obsessing about how to pay for her [wicked] stepmother’s funeral, like she’s barely getting by at work (you see a scene where paychecks are coming out and she’s denied one because she got two advances on her salary… which ultimately explains why she was fired later on)…
little by little, you start to see her character’s ingreity degrade before your eyes… her wired attitude screams drug use and Leslie says a couple of times that Jules is getting worse and worse

a love triangle starts to develop when Alec proposes to Leslie in front of people and she turns him down… Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) consules her and on top of her suspecting that Alec had been cheating on her (which he has, with a lingerie salesgirl), she and Kevin end up sleeping together… causing a rift between the otherwise happy couple and the two best friends…

Kirby makes several attempts to get Dale’s attention. He asks her to lunch and she’s called into the hospital for an emergency. He takes up the other job to make him look more appealing with his additional cash flow… he invites her to a party he’s holding at the mansion while the millionaire is away (which ultimately back-fires because) he heads to the mountains to track her down because she didn’t show up at the party he set up just to invite her to.
Turns out she’s already taken by someone else, but the man’s nice enough to let him stay when his car is stuck in the snow that night

I learned a couple of valuable lessons watching this movie, one of them being not to trust first impressions. One that I’ve instilled in myself is that I have to watch a movie all the way through before I can safely deny that it’s any good… if it starts out kinda slow, keep watching because something’s bound to happen to catch my attention and if it all pans out, it’ll end better than it began or at least it will leave with a good conclusion

The latter part wasn’t all that difficult. I think between the love triangle and wanting to see what happens with Kirby and Dale, I had no trouble sticking around. Plus I had to see who locks themselves up in the apartment and why… I wasn’t all that good with faces back then so it could have been Jules or Mare

I thought over the fact that Robert was considered for Rob Lowe’s role… and I didn’t think that would work out all that well… mainly because I didn’t like too much about Billy to begin with.
Strange considering how much that name usually turns me onto a role right away.
I actually thought it’d have been nice if Robert had Judd Nelson’s role instead, but Judd did justice and heck, loved watching him

part of this time I was estimating Rob Lowe, I was thinking about how he looked a lot like (or rather vice versa) Ian Solmenhander, who plays Damon from The Vampire Diaries… in part because one of the lists on IMDB while looking up this movie was “celebrity look-alikes”

I take an immediate dislike to Billy because I don’t see his character getting anywhere. He gets fired from every job he tries because he can’t seem to keep any good habits and the bad ones die hard. Heck, I spent the majority thinking that he’s all that good looking and why the heck he got so much credit for his 80’s work, like how he’s a name predominately associated with this decade…

Like I said earlier, his character has a lot of personal baggage going on.
In addition to his constant unemployment, turns out he had a wife and kid that he really doesn’t see all that much because he can’t support them with his bad habits. Everything about him says bad-boy and I came to my next train of thought during the scene where he has dinner with Wendy’s family and they find him hanging out on the roof (which made me smile because it was unorthodox at best šŸ˜‰ )…

A role is only as good as the actor that plays it… and naturally I’m going to have biases.
Given how I feel about Robert, I’d have more sympathy for Billy if he got cast in this role… I don’t care much for Rob Lowe, so naturally I won’t think too much of him playing this character…

and as it turns out, I learned a good lesson in that I should hold my opinions of characters I dislike until the very end of the movie… wait and see if something becomes of them.

Leslie approaches Alec, suggesting they put aside their differences for a time because Jules was in deep trouble.
Turns out that she’d been lying about going to work everyday and sleeping with her boss…
she was fired weeks ago and due to her spending (probably on drugs, but Wikipedia says she was also a shopalcoholic), all of the furniture in her apartment was gone

everyone shows up at the apartment and tries to get her to let them in.
Eventually it’s Billy that’s able to break through to her, both by getting her to let him in and talking her down in a time of distress.

His wisdom comes primarily from everything you’d seen previously in the movie… how he’d been fired 20 times and has a wife and kid that he never sees… making her feel better because what she’s going through isn’t nearly the end of the world… as he has survived worse.
Strange but true, he got through to me in this scene.

Between his testimony and that there are times I feel just like Jules (for me over the fact nobody wants to hire me), I was moved to tears. And as far as movies go, it was one of the better displays of that in me… because it was meaningful, for good reason and it didn’t define my emotional state of mind for more than a couple minutes.

The conclusion of the movie is that Billy and Wendy get back together but he goes to pursue a career in NYC. Leslie needs time alone to consider her options because she releases that she’s in love with Alec and Kevin. And Kirby and Jules need to look for work (he didn’t get the girl but probably left an impression… but he has no intention of going back being a busboy at the St. Elmo’s bar)

There’s a lot to digest in this movie, but it’s not so bad once you get a hold of everything and everyone. Wikipedia has this movie reported as being severly panned by audience (Siskel and Ebert called it one of the worst of the year).

:sigh:
and I realize now that after listening to the Podcast last night that I wanted to comment on the Purple Knights’ commentary on the Controversy album… and a couple other things about Prince that came into discussion…

but I figure that I ought to retire downstairs for a while before they have to send someone up here

my next entry is sure to cover Controversy as well as my thoughts on “Cowboys & Aliens” which we’ll be seeing in approximately an hour and 21 minutes

 

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