A Movie A Day #103: Mobsters (1991, directed by Michael Karbelnikoff)


The place is New York City.  The time is the prohibition era.  The rackets are controlled by powerful but out of touch gangsters like Arnold Rothstein (F. Murray Abraham), Joe Masseria (Anthony Quinn), and Salvatore Faranzano (Michael Gambon).  However, four young gangsters — Lucky Luciano (Christian Slater), Meyer Lansky (Patrick Dempsey), Frank Costello (Costas Mandylor), and Bugsy Siegel (Richard Greico) — have an ambitious plan.  They want to form a commission that will bring together all of the Mafia families as a national force.  To do it, they will have to push aside and eliminate the old-fashioned mob bosses and take over the rackets themselves.  When Masseria and Faranzano go to war over who will be the new Boss of all Bosses, Luciano and Lansky seen their opportunity to strike.

I love a good gangster movie, which is one reason that I have never cared much for Mobsters. Mobsters was made in the wake of the success of Young Guns and, like that film, it attempted to breathe new life into an old genre by casting teen heartthrobs in the lead roles.  There was nothing inherently wrong with that because Luciano, Lansky, and Seigel were all still young men, in their 20s and early 30s, when they took over the Mafia.  (Costello was 39 but Mobsters presents him as being the same age as they other three.)  The problem was that none of the four main actors were in the least bit convincing as 1920s mobsters.  Christian Slater was the least convincing Sicilian since Alex Cord in The Brotherhood.  As for the supporting cast, actors like Chris Penn and F. Murray Abraham did the best that they could with the material but Anthony Quinn’s performance in Mobsters was the worst of his long and distinguished career.

Fans of Twin Peaks will note that Lara Flynn Boyle had a small role in Mobsters.  She played Luciano’s girlfriend.  Unfortunately, other than looking pretty and dying tragically, she was not given much to do in this disappointing gangster film.

Back to School Part II #24: Can’t Buy Me Love (dir by Steve Rash)


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For some reason, the 1987 comedy Can’t Buy Me Love is really beloved by clickbait headline writers.  I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve seen headlines like “Why We Still Love Can’t Buy My Love” or “See What The Cast Of Can’t Buy Me Love Looks Like Today!”

Why is it that the worst movies always seem to have the most rabid fan bases?  Actually, to be fair, Can’t Buy Me Love is not one of the worst movies of all time.  I watched it on Netflix a few nights ago and it wasn’t terrible.  But, at the same time, it was hardly the classic that so many articles have made it out to be.  Maybe the people writing about Can’t Buy Me Love are viewing it through the lens of nostalgia.  Who knows?  Maybe my future children will think I’m a weirdo for loving Easy A.

(They better not!  Easy A is the best!)

Anyway, Can’t Buy Me Love takes place in the same upper class suburb in which all teen films from the 80s take place.  Nerdy Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) has spent the summer mowing lawns and he’s raised enough money that he can finally afford to buy a super telescope.  However, as Ronald is walking through the mall, he sees the girl that he’s been crushing on, Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson).  Disobeying her mother, Cindy borrowed a suede outfit without asking.  She wore it to a party, the outfit got ruined, and now Cindy desperately needs a replacement.  The leads to Ronald getting an idea.  Who needs a telescope when he can use his money to pay Cindy to be his girlfriend for a month?  Cindy can buy a new outfit and Ronald can date the most popular girl in school and become popular himself!

School begins and Ronald’s plan seems to work.  With Cindy’s help, Ronald goes from being a nottie to being a hottie!  (Yes, that’s a reference to the infamous Paris Hilton film from 2008, The Hottie and the Nottie.)  Of course, it’s a very 80s transformation.  Ronald learns about the importance of sungalsses, vests, and going sleeveless.  Along the way, Cindy falls in love with Ronald and comes to realize that her friends are all a bunch of followers.  When Ronald starts to do a spastic dance, Cindy can only watch in shock as all of her friends starts to the same dance, convinced that it has to be cool if Ronald is doing it!

Meanwhile, Ronald changes.  Being popular goes to his head.  He rejects his old friends.  He becomes a jerk.  It’s only when he discovers that his oldest friend, Kenneth (Courtney Gains, who appears in hundreds of these films), is being targeted by the popular kids that Ronald is forced to confront the type of person he has become and hopefully realize that you can’t buy love…

It’s always weird to see Patrick Dempsey in these old high school movies.  Some of that is because he was so scrawny that it’s hard to believe that he’s the same actor who made McDreamy into a household word.  Add to that, Patrick Dempsey is a good actor now.  Judging from this film, he wasn’t necessarily a good actor in the 80s.  At times, Dempsey seems to be trying so hard that it’s actually uncomfortable to watch.  Amanda Peterson, who tragically passed away last year, is a lot more natural as Cindy.

Anyway, Can’t Buy Me Love was apparently a huge hit back when it was released and it appears that a lot of people have good memories of watching it.  I thought it was kind of bland and poorly acted.  I’ll stick with Easy A.

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Planet of Dinosaurs, Real Genius, Switch, Some Girls


Since I’m new here, it was suggested that I cut my teeth on one of these 4 shots from 4 films posts. Also, because I’m new, I thought I would go with 4 films that have a special place in my heart. An introduction of sorts.

Of course, that means telling a little story behind each one.

Planet of Dinosaurs (dir. by James K. Shea)

Planet of Dinosaurs (dir. by James K. Shea)

Planet of Dinosaurs (1977) is a simple one. My Mom recorded it off of TV when I was a kid and I watched it over and over and over again. It’s a classic bit of Sci-fi B-Movie making. I watched this so many times that I can even recall the commercials. There was one for some compilation of hit songs. I was so young that when Gloria by Van Morrison played I thought he was saying the word Tijuana.

Real Genius (dir. Martha Coolidge)

Real Genius (dir. Martha Coolidge)

Real Genius (1985) is just a great movie, but it especially resonated with someone like myself who always felt out of place because I was so into computers at such a young age.

Switch (dir. by Blake Edwards)

Switch (dir. by Blake Edwards)

Switch (1991) is the easiest to tell the story behind. I’m transgender. I found it on cable one night as a kid and it became one of my favorites.

Some Girls (dir. by Michael Hoffman)

Some Girls (dir. by Michael Hoffman)

Some Girls (1988) is a tough one. When I first got a TiVo I put the Wishlist feature to use in order to see all the movies by actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Connelly. One day this movie popped up. I’m still not sure why, but it managed to bore a hole into my heart. It can still make me sad watching it.

Trailer: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Official Theatrical)


OK, this latest trailer for Michael Bay’s third entry in the Transformers film franchise looks to try and ask forgiveness from it’s fans about what had transpired with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (cough, cough…Twins). This latest trailer looks to mine the current alien invasion trend happening in Hollywood for the last year or two.

I’m not going to say that Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be in the running for Best Picture, Best Screenplay or even Best Acting awards come awards season, but I do get a feeling from this trailer that this third entry will be darker and infinitely more fun and watchable than the second film. I actually think that Dark of the Moon is the true first sequel to the first film and that Revenge of the Fallen never occurred.

The look of Shockwave (one red-eye) is pretty awesome as are the look of the invading Decepticons (or are they another faction). I remember talk of Unicron (the giant planet transformer) was to appear in this film but I’m not sure if Unicron will appear as a planet or that giant snake-like transformer that was giving that Chicago high-rise a major case of the hugs.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is set for a July 1, 2011 release date.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Super Bowl TV Spot)


I think most everyone will admit that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen wasn’t very good and to some people it was just one piece of turd. Even Michael Bay himself has admitted that the first sequel just tried to do too much without any sort of plan on how to pull it off.

Now, we have the third film and what looks like, at least from the trailer, may be a tad better. There seems to be more focus on the transformers themselves and the two sides fighting it out with lots of human collateral damage.

I sure hope this third film is not going to be like the second and more like the first but this time with invasion to make it more epic. The film comes out on July 1, 2011.