“Up Where We Belong”

I really need to stop watching movies that make me cry.  For my last blog, I wanted to watch a film that is considered both a critical and box office success of the 80’s.  I loved Richard Gere in Pretty Woman but was extremely disappointed with American Gigolo but I decided to give him another chance and watch one of his better films as my grand blog finale.  Tonight I watched an Officer and a Gentleman and I must say I LOVED this film.  It was released in 1982 and was both a critical success and a huge hit at the box office becoming the third highest grossing film of the year.  The film is definitely a drama and stars Richard Gere as Zack Mayo (yeah, like what you put on a sandwich) and past “It” girl, Debra Winger as Paula Pokrifki.  After a troubling childhood, Zack signs up and starts attending the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School in hopes of becoming a Navy Pilot.  Their head drill instructor is the extremely intimidating, brutal Sergeant Foley played by Louis Gosset Jr. (who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in this film).  Sergeant Foley terrified me!  He was so scary and everything the candidates had to do was extremely intense and honestly probably does not motivate anyone to join the navy.  Some of the scenes were a little to much to handle because of how intense they were.  While in the program, Zack befriends Sid and falls in love with Paula.  Obviously the film is a drama so there are many obstacles these three characters experience throughout that I do not want to give away because I HIGHLY recommend this film.  The film did hit a little too close to home for me with more of the intense and tragic moments (hence the crying) but I thought the film was great and it is probably one of my favorite films of the 80s now.  I did feel that Gere and Winger had chemistry and the ending scene, which is iconic and often referenced today in pop culture, was simply romantic.  I personally liked the theme song for the film “Up Where We Belong” and thought it was very appropriate for the story.  If you have not seen this film-SEE IT!

“Wind beneath my wings”

I had heard for years that the film, Beaches, would make me cry.  Well, I watched it tonight and I must say it did not do much for me.  I didn’t even tear up!  Beaches is a 1988 comedy/drama or “dramedy” starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as best friends.  The two meet as young eleven year old girls under the boardwalk and embark on a lifelong friendship in which they write letters to one another and meet up through various chapters in their lives.  They experience break ups, career ups and downs, marriage, pregnancy, and just about everything together until tragedy tears them apart.  I am convinced the reason I did not get so emotionally invested in this film is because of Barbara Hershey.  I felt her acting was not up to par and that she did not connect with her character at all.  Every time she “cried” it felt fake and sadly attempted.  I could not connect with her and felt that she was not genuine at all.  Bette Midler, on the other hand, gave a great performance.  When she cried, I believed it.  To be fair, her character was not a huge stretch being that she played an aspiring singer/actress; however, her performance was genuine and her singing, of course, was phenomenal.  The hit song from this film, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, pulls at the heart strings and is a well known classic for obvious reasons.  The story is sweet and the message of not taking your friends for granted is clearly portrayed, but I did not feel chemistry between the two leads-Hershey as Hilary Whitney and Midler as C.C. Bloom.  The film as a whole was just okay, it honestly felt long and that it just dragged on.  It is definitely “80’s” as seen by Midler’s huge hair and the various outfits worn by her and Hershey.  Probably the thing I liked most about this film was the little girl who played Hilary Whitney’s daughter-she was adorable as Victoria Cecelia Whitney! I probably would not recommend this film as one of my favorites from this decade but it is not completely terrible.

“I’ll have what she’s having…”

I have always loved romantic comedies so I’m sure it is surprising to hear that I had not seen one of the most iconic romantic comedies of all time…until now.  I had always heard of When Harry Met Sally but always found it odd that Billy Crystal played Meg Ryan’s best friend and eventual love interest.  I understand the idea behind the casting, gorgeous, insecure girl and an unattractive, but funny and sweet guy end up being best friends…opposites attract sort of thing.  Still, even when these two very predictably grew stronger feelings for one another, I felt a significant amount of chemistry was lacking.  It honestly seemed, as the lead characters said themselves, that the casting was “a huge mistake”.  Don’t get me wrong, I like both actors, just not together.  Meg Ryan as Sally was quirky, yet charming, while Billy Crystal as Harry was quirky and awkward.  It just didn’t work when his character acted all macho and cool in the beginning like he’s some hot shot of his college sleeping with a bunch of women.  In my opinion, Billy Crystal playing the New York male who can’t settle down and sleeps around just wasn’t the right fit.  All this being said, I thought they did make good friends, but it just got weird when they started to see one another differently.  Of course I knew they would end up together (romantic comedies tend to be extremely predictable) but even when this eventually happened thanks to Harry finally confessing his feelings, it was an annoying moment because Sally was so stubborn all of the time! I found myself just wanting the movie to hurry up and end.  I liked how the film takes place over several years, but after about the first ten I was ready to move it along.  I kept thinking to myself, “Just get together already!”  It probably sounds like I am not a fan of this film at all, but that’s not true.  Overall, I didn’t hate it.  It isn’t my favorite romantic comedy, but it was cute.  That’s right, just cute.  I can see why it was such a big hit during its day-its very 80’s (hair, clothes, 80’s New York, etc) and this film was Meg Ryan’s breakthrough role most definitely.  She probably made the movie for me.  I had heard about the classic fake orgasm scene and now after finally watching it, I applaud Meg Ryan for a hilarious performance!  How awkward that must have been for her to film in that deli in front of all of those people!  I’m sure they had to do multiple takes, but her performance was fantastic! And of course, the even more classic line, “I’ll have what she’s having”, made me literally burst out laughing.  I do recommend everyone seeing this film once in their life just because it is a well known romantic comedy that is constantly referenced in pop culture and it’s nice to see Meg Ryan during her good days.  Nora Ephron’s script was great and definitely deserved its Oscar nomination.  Although there isn’t much chemistry between the two lead characters of Harry and Sally, the film is hilarious, quirky in its own unique way, and a typical cute romantic comedy with a lot of heart.

Richard Gere At His Finest (physically)

After seeing my favorite film, Pretty Woman, for the 50th time I wanted to watch a film starring Richard Gere.  I had heard about American Gigolo growing up (my mom is a HUGE Richard Gere fan-which woman isn’t?) but I was never able to see it due to it being a pretty inappropriate film for youngsters.  I finally watched this 1980 “crime drama” last night and honestly, I was pretty disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, Richard Gere looked great playing a male prostitute and this definitely was shot during his good days, the film itself, however, was awful.  So. cheesy.  If you like Blondie you’ll like the soundtrack because it is basically dominated by Blondie songs.  The story was definitely not a romantic fairytale like Pretty Woman. Although it also takes place in Beverly Hills and there is an attempted romance (oh and Hector Elizondo who played Barnie the hotel manager in Pretty Woman plays a detective in this film), the story is dark and not a comedy in the slightest (even though it is pretty funny how bad this film is). In American Gigolo, Gere plays Julian Kayne, a wealthy gigolo who falls in love with a politician’s wife (played by past model Lauren Hutton), and is soon the key suspect for the murder of one of his previous clients.  The script was poorly written, with no character development and a mediocre plot-it is categorized as a crime drama but it lacks any sort of suspense and consequently, fails as a significant crime film.  I felt no chemistry between Gere and Hutton, who to me should not have been cast as the female lead. This movie came out at the beginning of 1980; thus, it was shot in 1979 and, in my opinion, it is more distinctly 70’s than 80’s as seen by the 70’s hair, clothes, and interior decor-it is clear that there is a transition from the late 70’s to the beginning of the 80’s. The film making is terrible! The lighting was consistently off and awkward and I was shocked to see random shots that had nothing to do with the story (at one point, an empty roof top and street are randomly shown for no reason).  The movie seemed to have no purpose or message besides showing Gere and Hutton naked in multiple scenes.  The ending is incredibly unsatisfying (the image below is from the very last scene-note Hutton’s awkward hand), so I would not recommend seeing this film unless you are really curious to see a young Richard Gere.

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…”

After watching two sob fest films I decided to choose a much lighter film to view tonight.  I’ve always wanted to watch Moonstruck (1987) with Cher and tonight I finally did.  What a hilarious romantic comedy!  In her Oscar winning role, Cher plays Loretta Castorini, a thirty-seven year old Italian American widow living with her hilarious, traditional Italian parents in New York.  Her father, played by Vincent Gardenia, and her mother, played by Olympia Dukakis in her Oscar winning role, are as dramatic as ever.  The film focuses on Loretta (whose first husband was hit by a bus) who believes she has bad luck in life.  She becomes engaged to her boyfriend Johnny Cammareri but while he is in Sicily taking care of his sick mother, she falls in love with his younger brother, Ronny, played by Nicolas Cage, and a variety of crazy and hilarious scenes ensue.  I really enjoyed this film and found it very entertaining-it’s basically a fun, witty, dramatic, over-the-top Italian soap opera.  My only issue with this film was the casting of Nicolas Cage.  He is eighteen years younger than Cher and, in my opinion, not a very attractive male lead.  Oddly enough, I must admit I was surprised to see that him and Cher did have some chemistry because they’re both so uniquely weird. I still would not have cast him to play opposite of Cher who owned her role. Cher’s performance was excellent-her portrayal of a middle-aged Italian woman in New York City was so genuine and believable.  Her accent was consistent and she really embodied her character.  Olympia Dukakis is fantastic as well in this film.  I just saw her in Steel Magnolias-in which she acted with a Southern accent- so it was crazy to see how well she acted with an Italian/New York accent.  Both actresses deserved all of the accolades they won due to their work in this film.  The film is distinctly 80s as seen by the costumes, hair, and setting (Notice Cher’s hair in the picture below!).  As a whole, I wouldn’t say this is a ground breaking film from this decade, but I do highly recommend seeing it.  It is a hilarious and very cute romantic comedy.  I’ve attached the scene in which Cher and Nicolas Cage’s characters first meet-it’s hilarious seeing Nicolas Cage freak out!

“Delicate as magnolias, but strong as steel”

Since I enjoyed Terms of Endearment so much, I wanted to find another film of the 80’s similar to it.  Last night I watched Steel Magnolias, and I’m pretty sure I cried even more than I did during Terms of Endearment’s heartbreaking scenes-damnit, Sally Field!  Steel Magnolias centers around a group of women living in Louisiana who are all extremely close and are there for one another during both the good and bad times faced in life.  Dolly Parton plays Truvy, the owner of the hair salon in which the women frequently meet; Daryl Hannah plays Annelle, the new, extremely Christian employee of Truvy; Olympia Dukakis plays Clairee, a widow who loves to make fun of her good friend Ouiser, an extremely bitter, angry two-time widow played by Shirley MacLaine;  Sally Field plays M’Lynn, one of Truvy’s best friends, and Julia Roberts plays M’Lynn’s diabetic daughter, Shelby.  The film particularly focuses on the life of M’Lynn and her daughter, who although very close, disagree on certain matters.  Shelby gets married and eventually gets pregnant, against her mother’s concerns that due to her disease she won’t be able to carry the child.  However, Shelby gives birth to a healthy baby boy.  She eventually suffers from kidney failure and M’Lynn bravely and selflessly donates a kidney to her daughter. The film was absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend it, especially to the females in this class.  The idea behind the title, Steel Magnolias, is that this group of women are typical, feminine Southern Belles but they are incredibly strong when tragedy occurs.  Most likely this film will make you cry, but it will quickly make you laugh and smile again.  That’s what I loved so much about this film.  Terms of Endearment ended sadly, whereas Steel Magnolias, although incredibly sad, has a happy ending filled with humor, smiles, and positivity.  The acting is phenomenal, especially the performances by Sally Field and Julia Roberts (Roberts was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and she won the Golden Globe for her work).  Each of the six women are unique, yet they all have many things in common and the bond between the characters is genuine and honest.  I loved that this film focuses mainly on women, and shows how strong and independent women can be.  The story is sweet and touching, and Sally Field’s monologue (which I won’t give away) is absolutely flawless.  The film is distinctly 80’s, as seen by the big 80’s hair and colorful wardrobe.  A fun fact: this film was directed by Herbert Ross, the director of Footloose. 

Ladies, grab your tissues….(maybe gentlemen too)

Now that I have gathered myself and am no longer hyperventilating, I can now discuss the 1983 award winning film for “Best Picture”, Terms of Endearment.  Starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger as mother and daughter, respectively, this film literally tears your heart out and stomps on it.  The film spans over thirty years and shows the lives of the blunt, difficult, overprotective, mouthy Aurora (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger) as they go through the ups and downs of life and foster their love/hate relationship.  The performance by MacLaine was absolutely flawless and I could immediately see why she won the Oscar for Best Actress for this film.  Another notable performance was by Jack Nicholson (who also won an Oscar for this film for Best Supporting Actor) for playing the alcoholic neighbor of Aurora and her eventual lover.  Over the course of the thirty years, Emma grows up, gets married right after high school (to a man her mother doesn’t like-she doesn’t even go to the wedding!), has three beautiful children, and learns that adulthood isn’t as peachy as she dreamt it would be.  This film was excellent, well written, and tells a truly touching story.  The characters of Aurora and Emma are so complex and intriguing, it kills you to see them fight.  Their relationship is fascinating to watch and the chemistry between the two actresses makes you feel as if they are really mother and daughter. Although she is known for saying whatever comes to her mind (which is usually not very nice), Aurora cares about her daughter more than anything and would do anything for her.  I’m not going to spoil what happens in the film, but I will warn you that this film is a major tearjerker.  If you thought The Notebookwas bad, you just wait! However, I highly recommend this movie because it has the beautiful lesson to appreciate life, your loved ones, and to not take anyone or anything for granted.  Other well known actors in this film include Jeff Daniels, who plays Emma’s husband Flap Horton (what kind of a name is Flap Horton?!) and John Lithgow who plays her friend Sam Burns.  If you appreciate killer acting (Winger was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress and did a phenomenal job) and a good, heartfelt (and heart wrenching) drama, I highly encourage you to watch this movie now! I’ve attached the trailer (which is actually pretty lengthy) but it doesn’t give away anything!

movie poster