Archive for the ‘1980s’ Tag

The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)   6 comments

“Horses ain’t like people, man. They can’t make themselves better than they’re born.”

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Charlie (Mickey Rourke) puts the finishing touches on his ensemble as Frank Sinatra croons Summer Wind in the background. Like the dressing scene in American Gigolo (1980), this glimpse into Charlie’s pre-work routine gives us some insight into his character. Unlike Gere in Gigolo, Charlie travels in working class circles, but yearns for something more. He manages a restaurant in a predominantly Italian New York City neighborhood and dreams of owning his own place. His ne’er-do-well cousin Paulie (Eric Roberts) works as a waiter in the restaurant and from the start we see what an irresponsible man-child he is. After Paulie steals from the restaurant, the owner fires him and Charlie. Desperate for money to support his ex-wife and son and to pay the rent, Charlie agrees to help with the burglary of a payroll office. They’ll stroll into a closed office building, Barney (Kenneth McMillan) a clock repairman and small time thief will open the safe, and the three men will walk out $50,000 richer. Easy, right? A side story involving crooked cops, local wise guys, and dirty money complicates their simple caper and the rest of the film shows us the strength of Charlie and Paulie’s friendship.

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The break-in and its aftermath don’t drive The Pope of Greenwich Village though. The characters do. Filled with actors like Val Avery, Tony Musante, M. Emmet Walsh, and Burt Young, the film has a real neighborhood bar look to it. Performances by Geraldine Page and Jack Kehoe as a mother and son stand out. The Academy nominated Page for an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in this film, but she lost out to Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India. All I can say is Ashcroft must have been awesome because Page hits it out of the park. I couldn’t take my eyes off her boozy, chain-smoking mother or make a sound for fear of missing a single word she spoke.

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Another nomination?

All the characters have great lines. Vincent Patrick wrote the novel and screenplay and has a real feel for his characters. An exchange between Paulie and his father played by Philip Bosco has the dad telling his son about a relative who is successful. He has a wife and kids and a home. Paulie counters with, “Pop, he shines his own shoes.” When his dad asks Paulie what success means to him, he says “I took 500 from shylocks, Pop, to see Sinatra at the Garden. Sat two seats away from Tony Bennett. That’s success, Pop.” Those few lines speak volumes about Paulie. Charlie has some great things to say too. When Charlie’s girlfriend Daryl Hannah gets fed up with Paulie’s antics she asks, “When are you going to outgrow him, Charlie?” Charlie answers, “Diane, maybe WASPS outgrow people. Italians outgrow clothes, not people.”

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Why am I in this film? Oh right.

Originally, The Pope of Greenwich Village had Robert DeNiro cast as Charlie and Al Pacino as Paulie with Michael Cimino directing. Delays in the shooting schedule forced Cimino to drop out so DeNiro and Pacino followed. Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke, The Laughing Policeman) directed and does a nice job of giving us the feel of the neighborhood and the people who live there. Music by Dave Grusin lets you know this is a film from the 1980s, but the real reasons you watch this film are the performances by Rourke and Roberts. Rourke showed great promise in Barry Levinson’s Diner (1982) and Roberts impressed critics with his performance in Star 80 (1983). Together they have great chemistry. Scenes with the two cousins walking arm in arm through the neighborhood or swaying to a Sinatra song while taking over a kids’ stickball game look natural. You believe they grew up together. I recommend this film. It falls short in showing you Charlie’s one foot in each world indecision, but as a character study full of lovely, small performances, it succeeds. Look for a fun bit of business with a tow-happy policeman and a horse physic and Mink DeVille’s pretty song Just to Walk That Little Girl Home.

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I wrote this piece for the 1984-a-Thon hosted by forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com on twitter @ForgottenFilmz
Check out his blog and the other films reviewed for this blogathon.

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Hellraiser (1987)   Leave a comment

hellraiser
“We’ll tear your soul apart.”

Clive Barker’s creepy masterpiece about a Pandora’s Box-like puzzle which opens a portal to a nasty, torture-filled realm still brings shivers to my spine. Andy Robinson, in an unusual nice-guy role, stars as Larry. He’s newly married to Julia (Clare Higgins) who’s not very nice. To give you some idea, she has sex with her husband’s brother (Sean Chapman) atop her wedding gown.

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“Nope. No cavities, baby. Now let’s get it on before my brother gets home.”

Sweet. Anyway, Frank, the sexy brother, has gone and gotten himself captured by cenobites and lives in constant pain and torment in some nether world. He escapes and needs blood to bring him back to his former hot, and yet depraved self. Since Julia lost her blood bank library card, she fulfills Frank’s desires for vital fluids by luring lonely, horny men back to her place for a bit of bouncy-bouncy. Hijinks and claw hammers to the head ensue. Oh wait, I mentioned cenobites. Did I forget to describe them? Cenobites are pale, leather-clad creatures with bizarre piercings who show up whenever someone solves the puzzle box. They look like the Harkonnens at a Berlin S&M club.

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“Come here often?”

Cenobites inhabit this weird, hinted at torture dimension and only come out to recruit new meat. Frank escapes from the Marquis de Sade’s rumpus room and brings Pinhead and his pals out into the light to sic them on Larry and his grown daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), for whom he has decidedly non-avuncular thoughts.

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Kirsty realizes Rubik has an evil twin.

Kirsty has to fight off Julia and Frank and an evil gang dressed like kinky art students to save herself and her dad. She does a good job of it too. She’s a strong character who thinks on her feet. When we first meet her, Kirsty’s not thrilled with her father’s recent marriage, but she doesn’t fall into the trap of doubting her own suspicions. It’s refreshing.

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Julia’s a little cold around the heart.

The acting in Hellraiser lifts the film above other horror films of the era. Laurence convinces as the young woman faced with saving herself and her family from eternal damnation. Along with Laurence, Robinson, Higgins, and Chapman, Doug Bradley, as the leader of the cenobites, gives a wonderful performance. Bradley is menacingly calm. He never raises his voice. He doesn’t have to. His threats are real.

hellraiser-cenobites
“Honey, the Welcome Wagon’s here!”

I like the Hellraiser series. It’s grisly and dark and the cenobites are cool. They don’t get enough screen time in this film, but they’re impressive and unlike any other baddies in 80s films. We also get to hear the tension punctuated by Christopher Young’s terrific score every time they appear. It’s a dramatic and scary combination.

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If Clive Barker directed Brazil.

Hellraiser is gory and over-the-top and one of my favorite horror films of the 80s.

 

 

 

 

 

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