The Best Legs in Eighth Grade aired on HBO. Apparently, their original programming has gotten a lot better since the eighties.
It’s difficult to describe Legs. Bruce Feirstein’s script seems to be meant for stage–the biggest surprise isn’t just he’s had a career since, it’s discovering he was an in-demand writer at the time–director Patchett might be suited for a sitcom (but nothing as emotive as a soap) and there are only two (cheap) sets.
Annette O’Toole is responsible for every good moment in Legs, except for one Jim Belushi contributes.
O’Toole has some problems with Patchett’s direction, but she overcomes it. She’s outstanding. Sadly, she’s opposite Tim Matheson, whose performance is indescribably bad. Some of it’s the script, but a lot of it’s Matheson. Kathryn Harrold is tepid as the object of Matheson’s lust. Vincent Bufano, in a tiny part, is strong.
Besides O’Toole, Legs stinks.
Directed by Tom Patchett; written by Bruce Feirstein; edited by Ken Denisoff; music by Lee Holdridge; produced by Kenneth Kaufman; released by Home Box Office.
Starring Tim Matheson (Mark Fisher), Annette O’Toole (Rachel Blackstone), Kathryn Harrold (Leslie Gibson), Vincent Bufano (T.C.) and James Belushi (St. Valentine).
Posted in 1984, Color, Comedy, English, Home Box Office, USA
Tagged Annette O'Toole, Bruce Feirstein, James Belushi, Kathryn Harrold, Ken Denisoff, Kenneth Kaufman, Lee Holdridge, Tim Matheson, Tom Patchett, Vincent Bufano
Into the Night is so strong, even Landis’s bad directorial impulses can’t hurt it. One impulse, casting a bunch of directors (including himself) in roles, only fails in the case of Paul Mazursky. Mazursky has a reasonably sized supporting role and he gives a terrible performance.
The other bad impulse is casting as well. Dan Aykroyd shows up in a small role as Jeff Goldblum’s friend. Aykroyd plays it absurdist, like an “SNL” sketch; it would work if the movie were absurdist, but it’s really not. In fact, it’s straightforward, if stylized.
The only other thing wrong with the film is Ira Newborn’s awful score. No idea if he’s a Landis regular.
Besides Ron Koslow’s deceptively brilliant script, the two lead performances are outstanding. Goldblum’s regular guy insomniac is fantastic. He’s so good, it’s hard to believe Michelle Pfeiffer is even better as the sort of mystery woman who takes over his life. Koslow never gives pay-off scenes showing how Goldblum’s life has changed because of the encounter because there’s just no time for it. A pay-off scene would break the realism of the timeline Koslow and Landis create. Into the Night’s not real time and doesn’t attempt it.
Pfeiffer has moments of startling depth and captivates. Since he’s floundering without a specific ailment, Goldblum doesn’t get those opportunities.
Bruce McGill, David Bowie, Irene Papas and Clu Gulager are outstanding in supporting roles.
Landis’s direction is so strong I can’t believe he directed it.
Into the Night’s wonderful.
Directed by John Landis; written by Ron Koslow; director of photography, Robert Paynter; edited by Malcolm Campbell; music by Ira Newborn; production designer, John J. Lloyd; produced by George Fosley Jr. and Koslow; released by Universal Pictures.
Starring Jeff Goldblum (Ed Okin), Michelle Pfeiffer (Diana), Dan Aykroyd (Herb), Bruce McGill (Charlie), David Bowie (Colin Morris), Richard Farnsworth (Jack Caper), Vera Miles (Joan Caper), Irene Papas (Shaheen Parvici), Kathryn Harrold (Christie), Stacey Pickren (Ellen Okin) and Clu Gulager (Federal Agent).
Posted in 1985, Action, Color, Comedy, Drama, English, French, Persian, Spanish, Thriller, Universal Pictures, USA
Tagged Bruce McGill, Clu Gulager, Dan Aykroyd, David Bowie, George Fosley Jr., Ira Newborn, Irene Papas, Jeff Goldblum, John J. Lloyd, John Landis, Kathryn Harrold, Malcolm Campbell, Michelle Pfeiffer, Richard Farnsworth, Robert Paynter, Ron Koslow, Stacey Pickren, Vera Miles
Peter Weller’s an L.A. cop with an in-ground swimming pool and a case his bosses don’t want him to solve. So what’s he going to do? He’s going to solve it, boring the viewer to sleep while he does too. It’s not Weller’s fault. It’s the script. And the direction, but I’ll get to it in a minute. The script has this wonderful, unspeakably awful way of every time a character talks to another character, they refer to that other character by name. It’s like the screenwriters went to a seminar and heard the use of names is good for emphasis. Revealing emphasis or some such nonsense.
I had intended starting this post with a comparison between made-for-cable cop mysteries with b-movies from the 1950s, but Rainbow Drive is so bad–well, I guess, it’s bad like most of those 1950s b-movies. Besides the terrible script, and the inability to make a case of Chinatown-level confusion worth unraveling, it’s director obviously thinks in terms of television sets. Bobby Roth directed one episode of “Miami Vice” and, with his Tangerine Dream score going in Drive, thinks he’s Michael Mann. To say he’s not is such an understatement, it’s not worth exploring. TV movies do not have to look like TV shows. Orson Welles composed quite a bit in 4:3 and it doesn’t look like a TV show. Roth’s also a terrible director of actors. Rainbow Drive has familiar faces saying bad lines and generally embarrassing themselves, particularly Bruce Weitz.
I could try to defend Weller’s performance in this one, but it’s pretty damn bad. David Caruso’s real good though, back when he acted. He takes a noteless role and makes it interesting to watch.
On the plus side, however, some of the second unit shots on L.A. are cool looking.
Directed by Bobby Roth; screenplay by Bill Phillips and Bennett Cohen, from a novel by Roderick Thorp; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by Henk Van Eeghen; music by Tangerine Dream; production designer, Claudio Guzman; produced by John Veitch; released by ITC Entertainment Group.
Starring Peter Weller (Mike Gallagher), Sela Ward (Laura Demming), David Caruso (Larry Hammond), Tony Jay (Max Hollister), James Laurenson (Hans Roehrig), Jon Gries (Azzolini), Henry G. Sanders (Marvin Burgess), Chris Mulkey (Ira Rosenberg), David Neidorf (Bernie Maxwell), Bruce Weitz (Dan Crawford), Chelcie Ross (Tom Cutler), Rutanya Alda (Marge Crawford), Megan Mullally (Ava Zieff) and Kathryn Harrold (Christine).
Posted in 1990, Color, English, ITC Entertainment Group, Thriller, USA
Tagged Bennett Cohen, Bill Phillips, Bobby Roth, Bruce Weitz, Chelcie Ross, Chris Mulkey, Claudio Guzman, David Caruso, David Neidorf, Henk Van Eeghen, Henry G. Sanders, James Laurenson, John Veitch, Jon Gries, Kathryn Harrold, Megan Mullally, Peter Weller, Roderick Thorp, Rutanya Alda, Sela Ward, Tangerine Dream, Tim Suhrstedt, Tony Jay