Author Archives: jeffthewildman
1997. The year yours truly graduated high school. The year of the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. The year Bill Clinton began his second term as president. A loose cross between the calm and the chaotic.
1997 was pretty great cinematically, an improvement over 1996, the weakest year of the 1990s. Musically though, it was a step-down. If in 1996, there was still a sense of possibility that the “alternative rock revolution” might lead somewhere, 1997 offered definitive proof that the moment had passed and all the possibilities that had leapt forth following the early 90s breakthrough had reached an impasse or petered out totally.
Shane Black may not have invented the buddy movie (Butch And Sundance were there first). But he did create the modern version of it. When Lethal Weapon, made form his script, was released in 1987, the most recent buddy cop movie of that type was 1982’s 48 Hours, which made a movie star of Eddie Murphy. The earlier film was great. But it didn’t develop a whole sub-genre. Lethal Weapon did. It also launched the career of its screenwriter.
The early 80s were kind of a weird time for pop music. On one hand, you had a ton of post-disco stuff and much AOR (album-oriented rock) like REO Speedwagon and Foreigner. Yet there was also the beginnings of rap and the resurgence of R&B. And of course post-punk and new wave.
It was the new wave scene that gave birth to the band focused on here: The Motels. Yeah, they were the group led by the talented Martha Davis who scored a big hit in 1982 with “Only The Lonely” only to have no more hits. Right?
Cameron Crowe started writing for Rolling Stone magazine at age 15. At 24 he went back to high school undercover and wrote a book about teen mores in the early 80s. He then adapted that book into a script for a high school comedy that helped define the genre. From there it was a short step to directing. Crowe went on to write and direct a series of character-driven films that were popular with critics and audiences. Then he began to fall off. His most recent film was one of the year’s biggest flops and was widely derided for a crucial piece of miscasting.
What the hell happened?
1996. On the surface, one of the more relatively calm years of the chaotic 1990s. There was an election, an Olympics, a plane crash in the Everglades, the Unabomber was captured, Dolly The Sheep was cloned and so on. So 1996 may look calm compared to the previous year and the following ones. But it was just as chaotic as any other.
Music? On one hand, if you look solely at the top 40, it would seem pretty dire. 1996 was the year of Hootie And The Blowfish, numerous one-hit wonders (Duncan Sheik and Donna Lewis) and a little ditty you may remember called The Macarena. But if you look beyond the mainstream, you’d find some pretty damn good stuff.
No, despite its name, Creed is not a movie about a rock band that ripped off Pearl Jam, fell apart and had its former lead singer descend into mental illness.
But it can take you higher.
Creed is less a Rocky sequel than a spin-off. It isn’t as much about rebooting the Italian Stallion as it is pointing the series in a fresh direction.
One of the quintessential elements of the James Bond series is music. Of course, you have John Barry’s classic theme song:
Additionally, each entry in the series has its own theme song. Many of those songs have found life outside of the movies they accompanied. But like the 007 features themselves, these songs vary in quality. Some of them have held up quite well over the years while some have faded as fast as Paris Hilton after getting a dip in Blofeld’s shark tank.
So which Bond themes stand as good to great and which reside in the category of mindless caterwauling. Read on to find out!
Elmore Leonard is one of the most iconic novelists of the second half of the twentieth century, so it’s natural that his work would be frequently adapted by Hollywood. However, many adaptations of his work fall short or even worse. The prime problem is that it’s easy to forget that Leonard’s novels and stories aren’t plot driven: the primary focus is on the characters, dialogue and overall attitude. Quentin Tarantino gets this. So does screenwriter Scott Frank and directors Steven Soderbergh and Barry Sonnenfeld. But many times, those adapting his work do not. Hence why of the numerous adaptations of his films, only a few truly succeed.
Before Fast And Furious or Michael Bay came along the original Die Hard set the standard for the action movie genre. It also introduced us to Bruce Willis as police officer John McClane, an everyman hero who stood in stark contrast to the muscle-bound action stars of the time. Although the series and the character are beloved, most of the Die Hard movies are really not all that great. Of them all, one stands as a classic, one’s pretty good, two are just okay and one’s quite awful. Let’s rank ’em and see which is which.
This is a tale of two movies. Both combined live action and animation. One was a massive success at the box office. The other was not. One was a witty and well-done valentine to classic cartoons. One was a massive piece of product placement/vanity project for a sports star.
If this were a just world, the massive piece of product placement would have been the one to bomb. But, as we know all too well, this is not a just world. Yes, 1996’s Space Jam, that testament to Michael Jordan’s ego and warehouses full Hanes undergarments, Nike sneakers and Bud-Lite, made over $240 million worldwide. This, in spite of its quality or lack thereof.
M Night Shyamalan‘s career could be considered a cautionary tale of how too much success too soon can spoil a promising director. After breaking through with The Sixth Sense and following it up with Unbreakable and Signs, Shyamalan seems determined to try to outdo each successive venture and in the process chase his tail into oblivion.
“You’re now about to witness the strength of street knowledge”
When I heard that a movie about the seminal rap group NWA was on the way I felt a combination of excitement and unease. Excitement because I’d been a fan of the group since the early 90’s and knew there was cinematic potential in their story. Unease because many musical bio-pics tend to be uneven and formulaic. The two most recent ones, the Clint Eastwood directed Four Seasons tribute Jersey Boys and the James Brown bio-pic Get On Up both fell into that category. Even the better ones (Walk The Line) have their flaws.
It may sound like Creedence. But it isn’t. It is however featured in quite a few movies such as The Lovely Bones, Trouble With The Curve and perhaps most famously Remember The Titans.