With the tragic passing of actor Anton Yelchin, I thought I’d pay tribute by posting a review I wrote pre-blog about this charming romantic drama he was in with hotties Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence. I chose to resurrect the Date Movie column, thought it was originally created, as obvious by the rating system below, to showcase horror flicks that were good for watching with that someone special. This isn’t a horror flick, but is a good date movie nonetheless…
Like Crazy is a emotional and sometimes heartbreaking tale of two college grads in a long distance relationship. American Jacob Helm (Anton Yelchin) and Brit Anna Gardner (Felicity Jones from The Amazing Spider-Man 2and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) fall in love when they meet in school in L.A. But when Anna violates her student visa to stay with Jacob, she is forced to go back to England and is banned from returning. The couple must now try to decide if their love is strong enough to make this relationship work or move on with their lives.
Like Crazy is an emotional roller coaster as we watch the heartache and indecision that Jacob and Anna go through. They want to be together, but enter other relationships when they are apart. They can’t seem to walk away from each other, but can’t wait till Anna’s visa problems can be worked out. Director and co-writer (with Ben York Jones) Drake Doremus creates a tumultuous relationship that really draws you in. He really makes you believe these two are in love, but at the same time, presents two young people who may not be ready for what true love means. It is very realistic at times in portraying the turmoil of being in a relationship strained by outside elements and the indecision of one’s own heart. For those looking for a romantic drama where everything wraps up in a neat and happy little bow, you may be in for a reality check.
The director draws excellent performances from stars Yelchin and Jones and even draws sympathy for those they bring into their lives and hurt with their indecisiveness. Jacob with sweet and loving Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence) and Anna with her yuppie boyfriend Simon (Charlie Bewley) who wants to marry her. They refuse to be honest with other about their other relationships while they work to settle the problems that keep them continents apart. All adding up to one big question… are either of them ready to truly be in love and deal with all that comes with it?
Like Crazy may portray the story of a difficult love far more realisticly than the average romantic may care for but, it is an emotionally engaging and sometimes heartbreaking tale of first real love. I highly recommend it for indie film fans and for those who like their romances Hollywood cliche’ free. If you are a fan of Yelchin or any other of the cast members, I also recommend it for their work in it, too!
The Lost Boys is a bonafide classic that works as both a charming and fun bit of 80s nostalgia and a timeless horror favorite. Both quintessential 80s movie with all the delightfully nostalgic fashions and hairstyles and cool horror thriller with it’s portrayal of both the dangerous and alluring side of it’s vampire fiends. The title in itself is a reference to The Lost Boys of Peter Pan, youths who remain forever young and the lure of eternal youth, an everlasting party, is a theme a lot of us can identify with. When I saw this in a theater in 1987, I was still in the out-all-night bar hopping and concert going stage of my twenties and, hell yea, I could identify with that. I still miss those days. But I digress…
The Lost Boys tells of siblings Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (80s icon, the late Corey Haim) who, with their mom (Dianne Wiest) move to Santa Carla, CA. a beach-side town where their grandfather lives. Their parents are divorced and both brothers are coming to terms with that and their new surroundings, especially when eccentric Grandpa (Bernard Hughes) tells them that Santa Carla has an unusually high death rate. But, a night on the boardwalk changes things as Michael meets the beautiful and mysterious, Star (Jami Gertz) and the equally mysterious and volatile, David (Kiefer Sutherland in the role that made him a star) and his gang of young toughs. But, there is more to David and his boys then dressing like an 80s metal band and riding motorcycles. These Lost Boys are actually vampires who have been stalking and feeding on the inhabitants of this coastal community. And they are insistent Michael join them in their eternal party and start his transformation into one of the bloodsucking undead. But, all hope is not lost as Sam has befriended the weird Frog Brothers, Edgar and Alan (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) who fill him in on Santa Carla’s vampire problem and want him to join them in slaying the undead menace. Now Sam is faced with trying to save Michael from a fate worse then death before he fully turns, while fending off David and his gang and, their mother’s suspicious acting new boyfriend (Edward Herrmann). Can Sam save Michael’s soul or will he become another victim of David and his vampire posse? Lost Boys is simply a blast. Before being vilified for his treatment of the Batman series, director Joel Schumacher perfectly blended laughs and fun with thrills and chills. David and his band of living dead teens are portrayed with equal parts menace and cool. We have no doubt that they are the bad guys, they’re quite lethal, but, they are also really cool and we can understand Michael initially being drawn to them as his personal life situation makes him feel weak and alone. With David and company he can be strong and rebellious but, the price of being an undead fiend maybe be too much for him to pay… and David is not one to take ‘no’ for an answer. And let’s not forget that Star is among them and Michael has fallen for her. Sam is a loyal little brother who cares about Michael, who is all he has as the two are trying to get used to the new life mom seems quickly adjusted to, and we understand why he is willing to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to save his brother’s soul. Aside from a witty script and Schumacher getting the material perfectly, the cast is also strong and also get the tone of their characters. Patric is good as a rebellious youth who has the foresight to realize he has gotten into something a little too dark and dangerous and Corey Haim is equally good and a lot of fun as a loving little brother who is ready to battle unearthly forces to save his sibling though he has a hard time believing what is really happening at first. Sutherland is a top notch villain as the eternal teen, David who is both vicious monster and bad boy heartthrob. A rock star vampire. Dianne Wiest really captures the loving mom but, one who is determined to have a happy new life for herself and her kids despite their reluctance. I personally identified with this part of the film as years earlier my parents divorced and my mother quickly met a new guy and moved us away from our friends and home to live with him. This filmed nailed all that comes with that perfectly. Jami Gertz is beautiful and alluring as Star and not only do we believe Michael falling for her (what guy in the audience didn’t?) but, she adds a bit of sadness to the mysterious young woman and her reluctance to to see Michael become a monster like she’s becoming is heartfelt. And Corey Feldman creates a classic character to equal Sutherland’s David with the bizarre yet noble vampire killer, Edgar Frog. He is a treat to watch and gives the film a lot of it’s humor. There is a lot of action, a nice helping of teen romance, a lot of fun sequences especially with Sam and the Frogs and there is a genuine helping of horror when we see David and minions on the attack and in the final confrontation that comes in the last act and Schumacher smartly plays all the horror sequences straight to maximum effect. And speaking of effects, the FX here are all good and still hold up, done the old fashioned way with no CGI. The film’s visual style certainly evokes a music video vibe but, this was the 80s and MTV was still all the rage and this was back when they actually still showed music videos! Add to that one of the best movie soundtracks of all time and you have a great 80s flick that is a timeless classic and is every bit as entertaining as you’d want from a date night movie!
So, why is the Lost Boys a great date movie… why not? First off it has a sexy young cast and a hip cool soundtrack to surround the story in. We have a horror flick with fairy tale elements intertwined within, a great combination for a date flick. We have the love story between Michael and Star to set the mood, a fight between good and evil with heroes we can cheer and laugh with and, villains to boo and yet secretly wish we could be. And the only possible hinderance is if you or your date find the whole 80s thing a bit cheesy instead of delightfully nostalgic but, I personally think the film’s story elements are timeless enough to overcome how much the film embraces it’s time period. It’s a romantic, thrilling and fun movie and all those elements should give your movie date a nice start… the rest is up to you!
… that equals a very strong 4 on the Date-O-Meter!
MONSTERZERO NJ BONUS!: And as an extra treat… let’s take a look at one of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time…
THE LOST BOYS SOUNDTRACK
In my humble opinion The Lost Boys soundtrack is one of the best movie soundtracks ever. Like the movie itself it is a quintessential 80s soundtrack yet, the songs are timeless enough to be enjoyed outright and not just as nostalgia. We get great tunes like INXS’ “Good Times” a rocker which matches with the film’s story elements of eternal youth and a life of partying and might be one of the most iconic tunes off this soundtrack as is Lou Gramm’s “Lost In The Shadows”. Close behind those two is the moody and atmospheric “Cry Little Sister” by Gerald McMann. We have some classic covers like Roger Daltrey doing Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and Echo And The Bunnymen doing The Doors’ “People Are Strange”. And I would be remiss not to mention The Call’s “I Still lBelieve” which is performed in the film by Tim Cappello who you may remember as the saxophone player who is built and dressed like Conan The Barbarian and performed in Tina Turner’s band during her heyday in the 80s. A great album of tunes that perfectly complements a classic flick. A few songs might not be up to the rest but, that is a minor quibble with all the good stuff here.
1) Good Times performed by INXS and Jimmy Barnes
2) Lost In The Shadows (The Lost Boys) performed by Lou Gramm
3) Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me performed by Roger Daltrey
4) Laying Down The Law performed by INXS and Jimmy Barnes
5) People Are Strange performed by IEcho and the Bunnymen
6) Cry Little Sister (Theme From The Lost Boys) performed by Gerald McMann
7) Power Play performed by Eddie and the Tide
8) I Still Believe performed by Tim Cappello
9) Beauty Has Her Way performed by Mummy Calls
10) To The Shock Of Miss Louise performed by Thomas Newman
First off the success of this date movie depends on your date’s tolerance for reading subtitles as The Orphanage is not available dubbed. I prefer to see a movie in it’s original language, but it’s sadly not everyone’s cup of tea. If they are OK with that, this is definitely a good movie to share with your horror loving honey…
The Orphanage is a Guillermo del Toro produced Spanish thriller that tells the story of a woman named Laura (Belén Rueda) who, with her husband Carlos (Fernanado Cayo) and adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep), plans to re-open the orphanage where she lived as a child for use as a center to care for children with disabilities. Upon moving in to restore the building, Simón, who is HIV positive, starts to see and talk to a little masked boy named Tomás as well as other children. This and other strange occurrences begin to plague the family until Simón suddenly and mysteriously disappears at a party. Time drags on with their son missing and the unexplained occurrences continuing and Carlos begins to give up hope. Now a heartbroken Laura becomes desperate to solve the mystery of her son’s disappearance by investigating the orphanage’s history, including the involvement of a strange social worker (Montserrat Carulla) and this mysterious child Tomás, whom she is certain is tied to the vanishing of her son. What she finds may be a nightmare as terrible as the one she’s living now and whose effects might still haunt the halls of this old building.
Orphanage is an atmospheric, scary and suspenseful mystery/chiller and a wonderful return to the type of film that delivers the goods without CGI or excessive gore. Under the direction of J.A. Bayona, Orphanage is a visually sumptuous haunted house movie that uses atmosphere and emotion to carry the story of a couple thrust into not only a parents’ worst nightmare, but a mystery involving the fate of the children that used to live in what now is their home. Sometimes finding the truth can take you places you don’t want to go. If you like goose bump inducing chills with a healthy dose of mystery, then this Spanish haunted house flick is for you.
Orphanage gives our movie date night a film that has a strong mystery to keep us guessing, plenty of things going bump in the night and an emotional story with a couple at it’s center for both participants in your date to identify and sympathize with… that equals a strong 3 and 1/2 on the Date-O-Meter!
Welcome to a new feature I am experimenting with, Date Movie! Horror flicks are great flicks to take a date to or to watch with your honey… unless of course your date or mate hates horror flicks then there’s always the latest from Sandra Bullock or Channing Tatum. Horror flicks are a lot of fun to get scared with and hold onto each other and well… hopefully you can take it from there. But, you have to choose the right horror flick as something too mild won’t provide the proper scares and something too nasty or violent might put your date out of a romantic mood or make it your last date… unless for that rare occasion where they are into the rough stuff, then maybe you should be a little afraid. So, I am going to try to focus on flicks I think are perfect for scaring the object of affection into your waiting arms… the rest is up to you.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)
Paranormal Activity began screenings at film festivals in 2007 but, it wasn’t until 2009 when Paramount Pictures picked it up (with a little help from some guy named Steven Spielberg) and, after briefly considering remaking it with major stars in the lead, wisely decided to release it with only a few tweaks including a new ending. the rest is history as the series has now grossed over $700 million worldwide. Not bad for a flick that cost only $15,000.
While this series has divided some fans, I enjoy them and I especially think this first flick was very effective and quite spooky fun. It’s a simple found footage flick that uses an old fashioned smoke and mirrors approach which is refreshing in a time of CGI overkill. This movie uses your imagination against you, as nothing is more frightening than what your own mind can conjure up and Writer/Director Oren Peli knows it. The movie starts out with an attractive young couple, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) who are experiencing some odd occurrences in their home. Gadget happy boyfriend, Micah decides to get a camera and set it up in their bedroom to capture whatever is happening when they sleep. Obviously, they find they are not the only occupants in the house but, what has moved in has targeted Katie and is far from a friendly ghost. Oren Peli perfectly manipulates the audience throughout the 90+ minutes of the flick’s running time. You know something is going to happen, the ominous rumbling on the soundtrack tells us so. You also know it will be worse then what came before, as the incidents are escalating, but, you don’t know what or from where and by the time it happens, our imaginations have got us so transfixed in tense anticipation that we jump out of our seats when it does. The fact that this happens at night while the protagonists are sleeping adds to goose bump factor as they are at their most vulnerable as would we be. The characters are portrayed by then unknown actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat so, they come across as real people and are likable and sympathetic. Katie is a strong spirited girl being slowly broken by the supernatural presence that seems to be targeting her. Skeptical boyfriend Micah is stubborn, prideful and can be a bit of a jerk sometimes but, his love for Katie seems genuine and sadly, his attempts to protect her only provoke and escalate the malevolent entity. Another thing that makes their performances so genuine is the Oren Peli cleverly let them improve their roles. His script was a basic story outline and both actors improvised their own dialog and thus gave life to their own characters. This really makes you believe you are watching the events unfold with a real couple. Featherston and Sloat also have a real great chemistry and their interaction with each other makes their relationship seem real and it is key in making the movie work. They and Director Peli also give the invisible yet malicious entity a strong and threatening persona despite the fact that we never see it and this makes it the threat it needs to be for the film to succeed. And it does. The last act and climax still give me chills and goose bumps even when watching it now. My one complaint involves a cheap scare involving a CGI image (the only CGI in the movie) that I felt was unnecessary. I understand that the filmmakers wanted one more jolt to give the audience at the point it occurs but, I actually thought what was there was creepy and unsettling enough and the actor involved was providing sufficient chills without the cheap scare… but it worked so, I can’t hold it against them too much. Spooky, fun, minimalist horror and an inventive use of the found footage format that, while not creating it, gave it a massive push into becoming a major sub-genre!
…and my in-depth look at Micah Sloat’s character here
So, the film gives us a young couple whom you and your date can identify with and provides plenty of chills and thrills to get you reaching for the comforting arms of your equally spooked companion… that equals a strong 3 and 1/2 on the Date-O-Meter!