Tag Archives: Jerry Bruckheimer

Flashdance (1983, Adrian Lyne)

Even though it’s terrible, Flashdance at least sticks with protagonist Jennifer Beals for most of the film. She’s a steel worker who dances at a club and starts dating her boss (at the steel mill, not the club, which is actually a bar). For a while, director Lyne and screenwriters Thomas Hedley Jr. and Joe Eszterhas try really hard to create the atmosphere of camaraderie at the bar.

All of the supporting cast has a story, especially Sunny Johnson, who dates the cook (Kyle T. Heffner, who wants to be a stand-up comic). She dreams of being an professional ice skater. But gives it up.

The film’s actually more of a character study than anything else. Just a bad one with a lot of pop music and Giorgio Moroder music playing over montages of Beals dancing sweatily (or her dance double dancing sweatily). When it’s actually just Beals working out, even if it’s scantily clad, Lyne feels the need to immediately follow with a break dancing montage of street performers.

I guess if it’s called Flashdance, there needs to be a lot of dancing.

There’s some more terrible stuff–a supporting cast member dies from an acute case of deus ex machina–but Beals is the protagonist. And then all of a sudden the film takes away her most important moment and makes her just a girlfriend character. It’s really upsetting, because Beals is at least likable, even if the movie’s crap.

The final disappointment is just too much.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Adrian Lyne; screenplay by Thomas Hedley Jr. and Joe Eszterhas, based on a story by Hedley; director of photography, Donald Peterman; edited by Bud S. Smith and Walt Mulconery; music by Giorgio Moroder; production designer, Charles Rosen; produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Jennifer Beals (Alex Owens), Michael Nouri (Nick Hurley), Lilia Skala (Hanna Long), Sunny Johnson (Jeanie Szabo), Kyle T. Heffner (Richie), Lee Ving (Johnny C.) and Ron Karabatsos (Jake Mawby).


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Thief (1981, Michael Mann)

With Thief, Mann leaves plain an American standard–the gangster movie. Halfway through the film, I wondered how it fit, as the energy the film opens with is gone. The film moves these awkwardly handled scenes without much flare. These scenes are presented as the standard dramatic scenes, but with something not quite right about the storytelling in these very familiar scenes. Then it becomes clear.

During the big jewel heist–which Mann could play as an audio and visual feast, but doesn’t–instead he sucks the romance out of the cinematic glitz. In the dystopian bleakness of Thief, nothing matters (not a philosophy Mann could hold on to for long), not friends, not family.

As protagonist James Caan moves through this mobster’s house, even though it’s a crime figure’s home, it’s lived in, versus Caan’s, which looks like a photograph. Seeing Caan in that setting, it’s clear how his presence in that house, in everyone else’s lives too, reveals it all to be a complete illusion. Anything not as bleak and empty as Caan is false.

Caan is great. Tuesday Weld is great. James Belushi’s really good, which is odd, as is Robert Prosky. Willie Nelson is good in his two scenes.

In the second of Nelson’s scenes, it’s clear Caan’s not a reliable narrator and Mann forces a barrier between the audience and the film. The film exists on its own. The characters aren’t beholden to the viewing experience of the audience. Thief‘s contemptuous of such a relationship.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Mann; screenplay and story by Mann, based on a book by John Seybold; director of photography, Donald E. Thorin; edited by Dov Hoenig; music by Tangerine Dream; production designer, Mel Bourne; produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Ronnie Caan; released by United Artists.

Starring James Caan (Frank), Tuesday Weld (Jessie), Willie Nelson (Okla), James Belushi (Barry), Robert Prosky (Leo), Tom Signorelli (Attaglia), Dennis Farina (Carl), Nick Nickeas (Nick), W.R. Brown (Mitch), Norm Tobin (Guido) and John Santucci (Urizzi).


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