Tag: richard dreyfus

MOVIE REVIEW | Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It tries to tell a real story with a real message.  It just never quite gets there.”

Down 1.jpg 
“Someone’s pissing on my hydrangeas!

The more movies I watch from more eras, the more convinced I am the absolute best decade for cinema was the 70s.  There’s amazing prestige movie making like The Godfather, amazing street level grit like The French Connection, Woody Allen hitting his stride with intellectual comedies like Annie Hall.  And movies like Star Wars and Jaws setting the gold standard for the blockbuster genre they invented.  Which makes it fascinating to me that the worst decade for film making came immediately after.  Obviously there were great movies made in the 80s, but there’s also a thick streak of cheap gloss, money worshipping excess to so many of movies made then that tarnishes the lot.  Even when movies try to use that excess against itself to deliver a positive message, it still comes off as kind of gross.  Which is the downfall of every good intention in Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

Jerry (Nick Nolte) is a vagrant in Los Angeles.  When a well meaning yuppie woman in a park inadvertently steals his dog while he sleeps, Jerry wanders the streets looking for the missing pooch.  Eventually, he ends up in Beverly Hills, looking at the glistening pool in the back yard of an expansive mansion.  Deciding to end it all, Jerry jumps in with no intention of ever coming up for air.  His suicidal plunge is witnessed by the mansion’s owner, Dave (Richard Dreyfuss), who dives in and saves the day. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #62. American Graffiti (1973)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

American

“Peel out, I just love it when guys peel out.”

For a bloke who spent the last 15 or so years facing charges of raping nerd’s childhoods by having the audacity to make movies for kids long after those nerds grew out of childhood, George Lucas had a way more interesting and eclectic start to his a career than the years since would suggest.  He started with some serious, dark, adult sci-fi in THX-1138.    A few years later, he had one of the most successful movies of all time and helped invent the concept of the blockbuster with not so serious, not so adult sci-fi in Star Wars.  And in between, he made a small coming of age story that was love letter to America the 50s, American Graffiti.


It’s the last night of summer in small town, 60s California.  With a scholarship cheque in his pocket, Curt (Richard Dreyfus) gets ready for one last night of cruising the main drag before going away to college on the other side of the country.  Also living the dream and getting ready for the big move is his best friend, Steve (Ron Howard).  Only, Curt’s having second thoughts.  Whether it’s fear holding him back or nostalgia for his home town, Curt keeps trying to prolong his last night and avoid accepting that his move is only hours away. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SWANSONG WEEK*** Always (1989)

Always

“I love you, Pete… but I’m not enjoying it.”

For a director who’s made more at the box office than any other film maker, I’m surprisingly ambivalent towards Steven SpielbergJaws is undeniably awesome, the original Indian Jones Trilogy is great and Schindler’s List deserves every bit of praise it ever got.  Then there’s his clunkers, like The Terminal  and Catch Me If You Can.  But everything else in his immense filmography is just kind of OK to me.  Nothing too amazing, nothing too terrible.  Just a whole lot of watchable, if not re-watchable, average stuff.


But even with my disinterest in Spielberg, I’m still generally very aware of his movies and their existence.  So when I watched Always, based purely on it being Audrey Hepburn’s last movie, I was surprised to see it had a pretty great cast of big names, and that it was made by Spielberg.  How underwhelming must Always be for it to be so overlooked and seemingly forgotten in the Spielberg canon?

Pete (Richard Dreyfus) and Al (John Goodman) are firefighting pilots.  They fly dangerous missions dumping water on raging forest fighters.  In the control tower is Dorinda (Holly Hunter), Pete’s girlfriend.  After taking one too many risks and scaring her one too many times, Dorinda tells Pete he needs to settle down or lose her.  Coincidentally, Al is trying to convince him that they should take steadier, safer jobs teaching other pilots to fly these fire missions at a new training school in Colorado.

After a pretty spectacular incident (it happens too early to consider it a spoiler, but it’s unexpectedness did make it pretty great, so I won’t go into details), Pete ends up taking goofy young dreamboat Ted (Brad Johnson) under his wing.  All of this with a touch of the super natural that introduces Audrey Hepburn as Hap, basically God.

Being a Spielberg movie, a certain amount of sentimentality and sickly sweetness is a forgone conclusion.  But the beauty of Always is that it has a sense of humour to its sickly sentimentality.  Richard Dreyfus’ Pete is a smartass who, for the most part, keeps enough of a cynical detachment from the emotion to make sure it’s never too overwhelming.  And Goodman’s character is basically that of the loud mouth best friend who refuses to take anything seriously, so he keeps the edge off as well.

Always is a bunch of great actors giving pretty great performances, but I can see why I’ve never heard of it before, despite its pedigree in front of and behind the camera.  There’s just not much to it.  Sure, it wants to make some grand statements about love, life and happiness, but none of those statements are new, or nothing you haven’t seen in plenty of other, better movies.  I feel the same way about Always as I do about most Spielberg movies.  There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours, but I’m sure I‘ll forget about it completely soon enough.

Always
Directed By – Steven Spielberg
Written By – Jerry Belson

Considering I watched this movie for Hepburn’s final screen appearance, she gets very little attention above.  Because her role here is basically a cameo.  But here are her swansong stats anyway…

Years Active:
1949 – 1989

Peak:
Breakfast at Tiffanies (1961)

Selected Major Achievements/Accolades:                             
Academy Award, Best Actress (Roman Holiday, 1953)
BAFTA, Best British Actress (Roman Holiday, 1953)
Golden Globe, Best Actress Drama (Roman Holiday, 1953)
Golden Globe, World Favourite Female (1955)
BAFTA, Best British Actress (The Nun’s Story, 1960)
BAFTA, Best British Actress (Charade, 1963)
Screen Actors Guild, Lifetime Achievement Award (1993)