As I mentioned one post earlier, Mya’s “Case of the Ex” went to #2 on the Billboard 100. What kept it from reaching #1? Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women”. Beyonce, Kelly, and Michelle stomped on Mya’s chart-topping dreams with this hit. The group recorded the track for the 2000 movie adaptation of Charlie’s Angels. Coincidentally, DC had just downsized to a trio, matching up with the Angels. Ironically, they had kicked out a Farrah.
“Women” focuses on capable self-sufficient ladies who can buy their own shoes, cars, and houses. They don’t need any men to do it for them. A strong message backed by DC’s smooth vocals and the Trackmasters’ slick production. My favorite moment is the breakdown where the ladies harmonize perfectly. It makes you want to throw your hands up at them for sure.
It’s after midnight and she’s on your phone. Saying come over cause she’s all alone. I could tell it was your ex by your tone.
From the opening lines you know “Case of the Ex” is about a trifling chick. In this case, Mya’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. She came out of nowhere and is showing inappropriate interest in Mya’s man. Reaching out to him at odd hours normally reserved for booty calls.
Now what it is that she wants? Tell me what is it that she needs? Did she hear about the brand-new Benz that you just bought for me?
Her goal is to breakup Mya’s relationship. She’s probably pissed that she didn’t get a new car when she was dating the guy. Jealousy is a motivator.
Cause y’all didn’t have no kids. Didn’t share no mutual friends.
Further proof that he shouldn’t be messing with this girl. They have nothing holding them together. Hang up the phone, dude.
And you told me that she turned trick when y’all broke up in ’96.
My favorite lyric. Hats off to whoever thought of rhyming trick with ’96. I love how much of a shade-fest “Ex” is. Mya drags this chick, verbally, for a good four minutes. Add in that da-da-da-da-da-da-dum beat and you have a great track.
“Case of the Ex” went to number #2 on the Billboard chart in 2000 and became one of Mya’s most popular singles. There was also the fierce video where she breaks it down in the desert while wearing studded denim. Very hot indeed.
Ten years ago, this month, I moved to San Francisco from LA. It wasn’t the wisest idea at the time. Nine months earlier I’d been laid off from my job and didn’t have any prospects. Moving to a city that was more expensive wasn’t the financially responsible thing to do. But I wanted to make a change and get away from LA. I had visited San Francisco once before, on vacation, in 2006. I liked all the different neighborhoods, the history, and the overall vibe of the city. Cut to 2010 and I started to feel SF pulling me back. It’s not something I can fully articulate. I just needed to be here. There were some tough times and dead ends, but ultimately moving was one of the best decisions I could have made. I’ve met my amazing partner, formed lasting friendships, and found a job where I feel valued. SF has become home.
Just to bring it back to old pop culture, one of my favorite films set in San Francisco is the 1978 comedy Foul Play. It features the Oscar nominated Barry Manilow song “Ready to Take a Chance Again”. I remember traveling to SF to find an apartment before the big move. I was in a store and this song came on the overhead system. Was it a sign? Maybe. In any event, I was definitely ready to take a chance.
The other night I was watching Clueless and realized that I still remember so many of the lines. That’s a testament to the great movie that writer/director Amy Heckerling created. It holds up all these years later and stands out as one of the best comedies of the 90s. For its anniversary lets count down Clueless’ best quotes.
25. “Whatever!” – Amber
Short and to the point. You need to make the W hand gesture, like Amber (Elisa Donovan), to really sell it.
24. “Wasn’t my mom a total Betty? She died when I was a young. A freak accident during a routine liposuction.” – Cher
RIP, Cher’s mom.
23. “I believe that was your designer impostor perfume” – Cher
Is designer impostor perfume still a thing? It should be.
22. “No shit, you guys got coke here?” – Tai
21. “Yo, you’re getting on the freeway!” – Murray
When I lived in LA, the freeway scared the hell out of me too.
20. “He does dress better than I do. What would I bring to the relationship?” – Cher
It’s a valid question.
19. “Cher’s saving herself for Luke Perry.” – Dionne
Weren’t we all?
18. “I am totally, butt crazy in love with Josh.” – Cher
That’s the greatest love of all.
17. “You see how picky I am about my shoes and those only go on my feet.” – Cher
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) knew her worth.
16. “Do you prefer the term fashion victim or ensemble-y challenged?” – Cher
Ironically, when Amber gets slammed here, her outfit looks cute.
15. “Girlie, as far as you’re concerned, I’m the messiah of the DMV.” – Instructor
That driving instructor was drunk with power.
14. “Would you call me selfish?” “No, not to your face.” – Cher & Dionne
Dionne (Stacey Dash) was a true friend.
13. “I do not wear polyester hair, ok. Unlike some people I know, like Shawana.” – Dionne
We never did get to meet Shawana and her bad hair extensions.
12. “May I please remind you that it does not say RSVP on Statue of Liberty.” – Cher
This entire speech is amazing. Worthy of a least a B+.
11. “It’s a dress.” “Says who?” “Calvin Klein.” – Cher & Mel
That was a cute CK dress. The jacket gave it an extra, transparent, layer.
10. “Dionne and I were both named after great singers from the past who now do infomercials.” – Cher
The early 90s were a rough time for Cher and Dionne Warwick…and their psychic friends.
9. “So ok, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair and cover it up with a backwards cap and like we’re expected to swoon? I don’t think so.” – Cher
This monologue describes 90% of the guys I went to high school with. Wash your hair and pull up your pants, dude.
8. “Rollin’ with the homies.” – Tai
Coolio was a wordsmith.
7. “Oh, no, you don’t understand. This is an Alaia.” “An Awhatta?” “It’s like a totally important designer.” “And I will totally shoot you in the head.” – Cher & the Mugger
I had never heard of Alaia until I saw this movie. It was educational.
6. “He’s a disco dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy.” – Murray
I can relate.
5. “She’s a full-on Monet. It’s like a painting, see? From far away it’s ok, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” – Cher
The nastiest read in the movie. Very descriptive.
4. “My plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.” “There goes your social life.” – Amber & Dionne
Dionne served Amber with some wicked shade.
3. “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” – Tai
Tai’s (Brittany Murphy) delivery and facial expression always kill me. She’s a savage.
2. “The was way harsh, Tai.” – Cher
The only appropriate response when someone calls out your hymenly-challenged-driver’s-license-less existence.
1. “As if!” – Cher
As if anything else could take the top spot. It’s the best line in the movie. Iconic as F.
In 1985, Columbia Pictures released Joel Schumacher’s coming-of-age-in-your-20’s drama, St. Emo’s Fire. The movie focuses on seven friends who have recently graduated from Georgetown University in D.C. The gang includes philandering Alec (Judd Nelson), his steadfast girlfriend Leslie (Ally Sheedy), moody Kevin (Andrew McCarthy), wild Jules (Demi Moore), reckless Billy (Rob Lowe), loyal to a fault Wendy (Mare Winningham), and infatuated Kirby (Emilio Estevez). Their post-grad year is filled with strife, heartbreak, laughter, and reluctant steps toward adulthood. The critics roasted the film, summing it up as a bunch of yuppies whining about having to face the real world. One writer even gave the actors the unflattering nickname, The Brat Pack. But the audience loved the movie, making it an 80s favorite. Let’s revisit St. Elmo’s Fire.
After college, Alec begins to pressure Leslie about marriage. When she puts him off, his next natural step is to begin cheating on her. Oh, ok. Kevin is also in love with Leslie, but since he can’t be with her, he stops having sex altogether. Hence, his moodiness. When the truth comes out about Alec’s cheating, Leslie flees to Kevin’s place. He confesses his love for her and they sex it up all over his apartment. Leslie keeps her pearl necklace on the entire time. That’s extremely yuppie. Alec unexpectedly comes over to see Kevin and Leslie smacks him in the face with the news that she slept with his best friend. Drama. After this all goes down, Kevin assumes he and Leslie will be a couple now, but she puts the brakes on that. It’s interesting because we get both guys’ points of view about what they want, but very little from Leslie. It’s not until the end of the movie when she tells Alec and Kevin that she’s not going to be with either one of them and is instead choosing herself, that we finally hear her side. It would have been nice to see more of this. Sidenote, since Kevin stopped sleeping with women, everyone thinks he’s gay. Jules even theorizes that he’s in love with Alec. That would have been a much more interesting storyline. Later, after they both realized Alec was an asshole, Kevin and Leslie could have become a 1985 Will & Grace.
Jules was wild in college, but after graduation she takes it to a new level. For one, she can’t manage her money. Who knew getting an advance on your salary was a thing? She maxes out her credit cards, buying clothes and garish home décor. There’s a terrifying giant ceramic clown head in one scene. Then she has the brilliant idea to start sleeping with her boss, which ultimately leads to losing her job. This is followed by a cocaine spiral. In a misguided suicide attempt, she locks herself in her apartment and opens all the windows, letting in the freezing cold air. The stupidity of this proves she’s really just crying out for help and not trying to end it all. Billy is able to comfort her back into reality. She tells him that she’s so tired. Yes, dear, adulting is hard. Now close your windows, find a new job, and get on with your life. Also, throw away that scary ass clown head.
This is the nuttiest story in the movie. Basically, Kirby went out on a date with Dale (Andie MacDowell) back in college. One date that led to nothing. Four years later, he runs into Dale. She barely remembers him, but Kirby is still hooked on her. This fixation escalates. He follows her to a party, where he creepily watches from the window. Then he crashes the scene and tells her he’s obsessed. No shit. Instead of calling the cops, Dale invites him over to her place. Girl, really? She tries to dissuade him from his infatuation. Instead, Kirby has tantrum, because things aren’t going his way and storms out. Later, he throws a big party to impress Dale, but she doesn’t show up. Incensed, he tracks her down at a cabin in the snowy mountains that she’s sharing with her boyfriend and throws another fit. Again, instead of calling the authorities on this psycho, she invites him in after his car gets stuck in the snow. The next day, when Dale is politely seeing Kirby off, he kisses her. Instead of telling her boyfriend to kick his ass, she actually swoons. WTF? Kirby speeds off, thrusting his fist in the air triumphantly. I truly cannot figure out what we’re supposed to think about this story. Stalking is romantic? If you pressure a woman enough into liking you, she’ll eventually cave? This behavior isn’t acceptable and yet everyone in the movie goes along with it. Not me!
Billy & Wendy
Out of everyone in the group, Billy has the hardest time letting go of college and stepping into the real world. It’s funny because he has the most adult attachments. A wife and baby. Instead of trying to gain some stability for them, he remains selfish and irresponsible. He loses jobs as soon as he finds them and gets drunk every night. He’d rather run around with his friends than grow up. It’s a sad Peter Pan situation. Wendy, unfortunately, enables Billy’s behavior. She’s in love with him and can’t call him out on his ridiculous behavior. Even after he gets drunk and totals her car, nearly killing her, Wendy forgives him. I found that plot point to be really stupid. But not as bad as Wendy offering her virginity to him. Sigh. So, Billy realizes he needs to get his shit together. He’s going to divorce his wife so she can be with a guy who actually wants to be a husband. And, Billy is moving to NY. If you can make it there…well he probably won’t. As a going away gift, Wendy gives him her V-card. Now, I know Billy is incredibly good looking (this is prime Rob Lowe hotness here), but he’s still a tool. He doesn’t deserve your “flower”, Wendy.
The theme song to the movie, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” is pretty awesome. It incorporates the themes of the movie (growing up, finding your future) in one jazzy-pop-rock moment. Plus, the video, starring singer John Parr and his enormous fluffy hair, is perfectly 80s.
Forty years ago, someone thought it would be a great idea to make a pseudo-biopic-musical about the Village People called Can’t Stop the Music.That someone was Allan Carr. At the time, he was on top of his game after producing Grease two years earlier. Given that blockbuster success, it’s not surprising that Carr was able to get any film he wanted green-lit. Similarly, the Village People were a very popular disco act. The kitschy group, consisting of the Cop (Ray Simpson), Cowboy (Randy Jones), Native American (Felipe Rose), G.I. (Alex Briley), Construction Worker (David Hodo), and Leatherman (Glenn M. Hughes), had sold tons of albums worldwide. The movie could have been a hit in theory, but it crashed and burned. The box office was horrible, critics ripped it apart, and it won the first annual Razzie Award for Worst Picture. That’s the triple crown of sucking. Over the years, CSTM has bounced back somewhat and become a cult classic, mainly because it’s so delightfully absurd. Here are ten ridiculous things about the film.
10. The writing
The plot is very thin. Musician Jack (Steve Guttenberg) enlists his roommate Samantha (Valerie Perrine), a former supermodel, to help him get a record deal. He can’t sing, so a group is needed to perform the music. They assemble a motley crew and brand them as the Village People. Now they just need to get Samantha’s ex-boyfriend Steve (Paul Sands), president of Marrakech Records, to sign the group. There’s also a silly subplot about Samantha falling for uptight lawyer Ron (Caitlyn Jenner). The movie needed a bit of romance I suppose. Bronte Woodard wrote the screenplay and you have to wonder how high he was while doing so. The story is just a bunch of nonsensical moments and wacky hijinks thrown together. There’s also the wooden dialogue with lines like, “The 70s are dead and gone. The 80s are going to be something wonderfully new and different, and so am I”. Yikes.
9. Nancy Walker
On one hand, it’s fantastic that actress Nancy Walker was hired on as the director. She became the first woman to helm a multi-million-dollar movie. On the other hand, this is what she made. CSTM marked her first and last feature film. There’s also the fact that before this she was best known for starring as the “quicker picker upper” lady in Bounty commercials. No amount of paper towels could clean up this mess of a film though.
A lot of CSTM revolves around Samantha, which is a bad choice. Perrine isn’t a bad actress, but she can only do so much with such an empty character. She mainly bounces from scene to scene being bubbly. Carr originally wanted Olivia Newton-John for the role. She turned him down and signed on to be in Xanadu instead, which is the equivalent of dodging a bullet only to get hit by a bus.
At one point, Jack and Samantha hold auditions for new group members. There are some random acts, like a clown on stilts and a stripper. Then the Leatherman struts in and sings a stirring rendition of “Oh Danny Boy” while standing on a piano. Perhaps they were trying to add some gravitas to the film?
6. I Love You to Death
I-I-I-I love this song to death. It’s dumb and repetitive, yet fun. The Construction Worker sings it ferociously, in a fantasy sequence, as female dancers in tight red dresses slink around him. I think it’s supposed to be sexy, but it fails on that front. Once a dancer bites his bicep, it’s impossible to take this seriously. Not to mention all the glitter that rains down on them.
5. Guttenberg’s gusto
Guttenberg is dialed up to a 23, on a 1 to 10 scale, every moment he’s on screen. The best is the opening where he enthusiastically roller skates through the streets of NYC as “The Sound of the City” plays on the soundtrack. He’s just so damn jazzed up about…everything.
4. Do the shake
In order to finance the Village People, Samantha comes out of supermodel retirement to do a TV commercial for milk that also features the group. The beginning of the ad has little boys dressed up as the VP characters. They drink their milk and grow up to be strong macho men. Then they do an intricately choreographed Busby Berkley-type number to “Milkshake”. It’s nuts. Also, a DJ should put together a mashup of the song and Kelis’ “Milkshake”. A shakeoff.
Lulu (Marilyn Sokol) is Samantha’s sidekick. She’s also an incredibly horny woman. Sex jokes and double entendres fly out of her mouth at a rapid pace. Sokol comes off as plain goofy, though, as she vamps and gyrates for the camera. You feel so embarrassed for her, yet you’re unable to turn away.
The Village People, Samantha, Jack, and Ron take a trip down to the local Y and find themselves caught in the middle of a cluster of hot muscular guys. A gay fever dream ensues. There’s locker room lip syncing, synchronized diving, slow-motion wrestling, and some very 80s special effects. Side note, CSTM is the only PG movie to feature full-frontal male nudity with a flash of peen in the shower scene. Someone at the ratings board must have been asleep at the wheel. There’s also a boob shot with Perrine. Something for the straight guys in the audience. All zero of them.
1. The fact it exists at all
But, really, how did this movie get made? In the summer of 1979, when production started up, disco was dying due to oversaturation and the “disco sucks” movement. Building a movie around a fading music genre/scene probably wasn’t the best idea. Someone should have stepped in and pulled the plug before it even began. Of course, then we wouldn’t have this craziness to “enjoy”. Maybe you shouldn’t try to stop the music afterall.
Back in 1990, Mariah Carey made her debut with her self-titled album. Up until then, she was a backup singer in NYC looking for a big break. That came when she met Tommy Mattola, the president of Sony, and signed to his record label. Contrary to the Svengali narrative, Mattola didn’t create Mariah. Most of the material for that first album came from a demo tape that she had made in high school, she wrote her own songs, and her incredible singing wasn’t taught. She was a powerhouse of her own making. Here are Mariah Carey’s 11 tracks.
11. You Need Me
You know what you don’t need on the album? This song. It’s overproduced and boring.
10. Sent from Up Above
Only slightly better than YNM, but still “eh”. It sounds very early 90s and not in a good way.
9. All in Your Mind
The best moment on this one is the whistle note staccato at the end.
8. All Alone in Love
AAIL is one of those songs you’d hear on a “quiet storm” radio night. Smooth and easy.
7. There’s Got to Be a Way
A song with a message that still needs to be heard today. Mariah sings about overcoming racial inequality and bigotry.
This is a fun dance/r&b track with some electric guitar thrown in. She even raps. You wouldn’t think it would work and yet somehow it does.
5. I Don’t Wanna Cry
The fourth single off the album and probably the most overlooked. It’s not as flashy as the others. However, it’s a beautiful heartbreaking song that deserved to go to the top of the charts.
4. Love Takes Time
The album was already finished and mastered when Mariah wrote LTT. She intended it for her next record, but the executives at Sony loved it and insisted she include it on MC instead. It’s another pretty breakup ballad. Her specialty.
For her third single, Mariah switched it up and put out an up-tempo new jack swing track. Over a very danceable beat she tells her ex that he’s going to regret letting her going and he’ll come crawling back someday. She knows her worth. Then she takes it home with an amazing high note. Where’s he going to find another girl that can do all that?
A very close 2nd to the top track here. Vanishing is the deep album cut that many fans point to as their favorite. It’s so simple yet so rich with the piano and her vocal runs that seem to go on forever.
1. Vison of Love
The song that introduced Mariah to the world quickly established her signature style. In 3 1/2 minutes she goes from incredible low notes to the highest of highs. It’s the definition of vocal gymnastics. Throw in a timeless melody and you have a hit. The fact that there was nothing like it out there at the time definitely contributed to its success. That uniqueness inspired Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, and countless other singers. Mariah’s vision completely changed the music scene.
“Fame, I’m gonna live forever!” Or for at least 40 years. Back in the 80s, Fame gave a fresh take on the big screen musical and instantly left a mark on pop culture. The movie follows eight students (musicians, actors, dancers) at New York’s High School of Performing Arts. Working from a script written by Christopher Gore, director Alan Parker captures all the highs and lows over a four-year period. Let’s remember, remember, remember, remember (yeah, I did it) Fame.
During the audition process we meet the fresh hopefuls looking to secure a spot at the prestigious PA school. Coco (Irene Cara) is a confident triple threat. Bruno (Lee Curreri) is the innovative musician. Lisa (Laura Dean) lacks confidence and direction, but still manages to get into the dance department. Shy Doris (Maureen Teefy) gets pushed into auditioning by her overbearing stage mother. She’s joined in the drama dept. by closeted Montgomery (Paul McCrane) and class clown Ralph (Barry Miller). Rounding out the group is Leroy (Gene Anthony Ray), who quickly impresses with his dancing. Parker cuts between the main characters and a bunch of other wannabes, establishing the culture of the school. Everyone is striving for something.
The kids arrive for freshman year (with the thoughtful “Dogs in the Yard” playing over a montage) where they discover that PA is not an easy school. It’s especially difficult for Leroy since he’s illiterate. I could have done without the stereotypical “inner city youth who can’t read and the hard-nosed teacher (Ann Meara) who pushes him to learn” storyline. But it was 1980, so what do you expect? Doris and Montgomery become fast friends as the awkward outsiders. She worries she’s not colorful enough for this school. Whereas he is trying to blend into the background.
The big rousing number in this year is “Hot Lunch Jam”. The students dance on tables, bang on the piano, and sing about macaroni and baloney. It’s a fun song.
Hilary (Antonia Franceschi) arrives on the scene in the dance department and promptly pisses off Coco by going after her boyfriend, Leroy. Lisa is kicked out of the department by her harsh teacher. We think she’s going to jump in front of a subway train, but she just dumps her dance gear on the tracks instead. I’m glad Gore spared the audience from the usual teen suicide story. It would have been too afterschool special. Meanwhile, Montgomery comes out to his drama class. A safe space for a gay guy if there ever was one.
Bruno is reluctant to share his music with others, so his enthusiastic dad, a taxi driver, steals his tape and blasts it from his cab outside of the school. In the most over the top musical moment in the film, students rush out of their classes and start dancing in the street, or on top of cars, as “Fame” plays. Off-screen the song was huge, going to number #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Doris comes out of her shell and rebels against her bossy mother. She also falls for Ralph, leaving Montgomery out in the cold. He expresses his loneliness with “Is it Okay if I Call You Mine”, a very pretty sad ballad.
My favorite song on the soundtrack, “Out Here on My Own”, is featured in this year. Coco’s vocals and the beautiful piano accompanying her are perfect. The track became the film’s second hit single and garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. It was the first time two songs from the same movie were nominated.
Ralph’s stand-up comedy career takes off, but his need to party like a Belushi after his shows hurts his personal life. Luckily, he comes down to earth before something tragic happens. Meanwhile, Hilary gets pregnant and decides to have an abortion. She won’t let a baby get in the way of her ballet career. On a better note, Leroy is offered a spot in Alvin Ailey’s dance company.
In the worst moment in the movie, a sleazy producer manipulates Coco into taking off her top for a “screen test”. She’s sobbing as the camera rolls. But there’s no follow up since we don’t see her again until the end of the film. I would have liked to see more of her POV. Without that, the scene feels exploitative. Maybe that was the point, to show how terribly young women trying to break into the industry are treated. Still, it could have been handled better by Parker and Gore. That’s actually a recurring problem I have with the film. They’re constantly bouncing around from character to character. I wish there was more of a plot and time to flesh out these stories.
The finale comes with the graduation ceremony and a performance of “I Sing the Body Electric”. Lisa, Coco, and Montgomery have solos, Leroy dances; and Bruno plays the piano, finally sharing his music with the world. The lyrics talk about looking forward to the you yet to come and knowing you’ll shine brightly then. It’s appropriate for these kids with their dreams of success, yearning to shed their old skin and be reborn as stars. I also like the arrangement with the full orchestra, rock band, and choir. The song does get schmaltzy, but it’s still works for me. It’s a touching end to the movie and a great sendoff for these characters headed towards their next chapter.
On Friday, May 9, 1980, Paramount Pictures released Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th. The low budget horror film about a serial killer picking off camp counselors was a surprise hit that year. It proved that a simple premise with genuine scares can go a long way. A thousand sequels followed, but none of them matched the original. Here are the five scariest moments from the movie.
5. Don’t Have Sex
The film opens at Camp Crystal Lake in the 1950s. An amorous young couple sneaks off to a storage room to get busy. They don’t count on a killer joining them. Not the kind of threesome you want. They’re cornered and quickly murdered. This is a prime example of why you shouldn’t have sex of any kind in a horror movie. But, if you do, have an escape route.
4. In the bathroom
Here’s one reason I’m not into camping: the bathroom situation. I have zero interest in walking through the woods to get to a toilet or a shower. Especially when a psycho could we hanging out in there. Marcie (Jeannie Taylor) thinks her friends are playing a trick on her, waiting to pop out from one of the shower stalls. The tension builds as we watch her pull back every curtain. But then, surprise, the killer is actually behind her and Marcie gets an ax to the face.
While Jack (Kevin Bacon) and Marcie were having sex (don’t do it!), a dead body was above them, on the top bunk, and the killer was underneath their bed. That’s a sinister sandwich. After Marcie exits, the killer drives an arrow through Jack’s throat from below. It’s disgustingly bloody. On a side note, back in the day I worked for Laura Kightlinger’s agent and got to know the actress/writer a little. Great woman. Laura worked on Will & Grace. Kevin Bacon guest starred on W&G. So that makes me two degrees away from Kevin Bacon. Kinda.
2. Kill her, Mommy, kill her
If you’ve seen Friday the 13th or the first Scream, you know that Mrs. Voorhies (Betsy Palmer) is the killer, out to avenge her son’s death. She seems like a sweet middle-aged mom when she pops up towards the end of the movie. But she quickly shows her crazy ways and it’s quite frightening, especially when she speaks in Jason’s voice. Mommy has gone around the bend. She chases Alice (Adrienne King) through the camp in a series of near misses. Alice manages to get the upper hand and chops her head off. In slow-motion.
1. Beneath the surface
After Alice has wacked Mrs. V., she decides to climb into a canoe and take a nap. Sure. She wakes up the next morning in the middle of the lake. Tranquil piano music plays as she looks at her reflection in the peaceful water. Then a deformed zombie-like Jason suddenly surfaces, dragging her into the lake. It’s one of the best last scares in a horror movie. If that doesn’t scare the bejezus out of you, you’re already lacking in bejezus.
In 1990, prolific director Sidney Lumet released his latest feature film, Q&A. The plot focuses on Michael Brennan (Nick Nolte), a New York City cop who has murdered a criminal in cold blood and made it look like self-defense. A young rising district attorney, Al Reilly (Timothy Hutton), is assigned to what he’s told will be a simple case. As he digs deeper, he discovers Brennan’s complicated misdeeds. The veteran cop bullies and intimidates witnesses, covers his tracks with lies, and ultimately kills to keep his secrets. He’s empowered by higher ups in the system who look the other way or mobsters who provide the additional muscle he needs. But Al refuses to enable Brennan. He’s committed to upholding the law, even if it could get him killed.
During his investigation, Al encounters Bobby Texador (Armand Assante), a notorious drug boss who witnessed the murder. He’s a colorful character that just so happens to be dating Al’s ex-girlfriend, Nancy (Jenny Lumet). Al still loves her and regrets the breakup. This is actually one problem I found with the movie. Every time Al and Nancy are on screen together the movie grinds to a halt. Nobody cares. The audience for this film didn’t come to see a stale love story. The better interactions are between Hutton and Nolte or Hutton and Assante. They are all excellent in their roles and have great chemistry.
Lumet adapted the screenplay from Edwin Torres’ novel of the same name and it’s easy to see why he was drawn to the material. The book uses themes that the director had explored before in his movies (Serpico, Prince of the City, The Verdict): corruption, abuse of power, and the little guy fighting back against it all. Lumet expertly weaves a David & Goliath story into a crime thriller, adding complexity to the gritty action. The film also touches on issues of race, class, and sexuality. The last one, specifically how the LGBT characters are treated, could have been executed better though.
Q&A didn’t perform well at the box office or get a lot of acclaim from the critics, but I find it to be an interesting film. Even though Lumet has gone down this road before he manages to cover the material from a fresh perspective. It’s still worth taking a look all these years later.