I was never really sure what Robert Zemeckis intended with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Was he showing us the sheer mania that erupted with the arrival of the Beatles, or is he purposely exaggerating the mania of the arrival of the Beatles? That sense of confused tone tends to keep “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” from turning in to a great nostalgia time capsule comedy (Ironically the great nostalgia time capsule comedy would eventually become Zemeckis’ film “Back to the Future”). Instead it’s merely an okay nostalgia time capsule comedy that reaches for the heights of “American Graffiti,” but never quite touches that high bar.
By the time Fred Sears’ “Rock around the Clock” arrived, the Bill Haley and the Comets song “Rock around the Clock” was already a massive hit thanks to “Blackboard Jungle.” It’d been accepted already as the quintessential youth anthem about rocking out and partying to rock and roll until the broad daylight. Banking on the beloved anthem was a stroke of genius, with a film that puts Bill Haley and the Comets front and center and zeroes in on the appeal of rock and roll. Well—the Caucasian version of rock and roll, anyway.
Much like every trend, America jumps on to what the UK did much better in film. After the rousing success of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films, America followed up with “Book Club.” There’s nothing wrong with a movie appealing to the older mature audiences in the mood for a good time that’s not centered on superheroes or animated characters, but “Book Club” is just such a waste of time. It takes a brilliant cast and wastes them in what feels like latter day Garry Marshall when he was trotting out awful holiday based ensemble films.
Warner Bros and DC Comics begins correcting course from their disastrous first run of films by finally focusing on characters that have been woefully under valued for decades. If “Aquaman” is any indication, DC and Warner are on course for a huge comeback that could signal a string of fantastic comic book films, finally. DC garners such a gallery of wonderful mythical superheroes, and James Wan comes on board to not only embrace Aquaman’s universe whole hog, but show us why he’s not at all the geekiest superhero in his stable. If there was anyone that could pull Aquaman out of the doldrums, it’s James Wan. Wan is one of the best, most dynamic filmmakers working today and he can put a creative spin on just about everything.
If there was ever a movie that could be an introduction to the sheer indescribable beauty and sexiness that was Marilyn Monroe, it’s “Some Like It Hot.” My first introduction to the movie was when I was a pre-teen in 1997, in the middle of a busy classroom on a free day. The teacher slipped the movie on for everyone to watch, and every one of my classmates had run off to chat or goof around, but I sat and watched “Some Like It Hot.” Suffice to say Billy Wilder’s romance comedy was a first real taste of classic film I’d ever had and it sparked an interest I never really got over.
Every few years, the Hollywood machine dips in to their pool of public domain legends and stories, failing to realize that no one is interested in them. No matter what new spin they put on them, they almost always turn out poorly. “Robin Hood” is on the chopping block once again, with Summit Entertainment trying their damndest to superhero-ify the merry thief. The only problem is that we’ve had a superhero Robin Hood for decades now, and—no one gives a shit about Robin Hood anymore. No matter gloss the studios put on the tale, even turning him in to pseudo-Batman, “Robin Hood” (or “Robin Hood Begins” or “The Dark Hood Returns”) is a swing and a miss, a giant squishy thud that lands in a year filled with some truly stellar action and fantasy films.
If I had to list five of the quintessential nineties movies that basically defined the decade, “Can’t Hardly Wait” would be on the list. It’s not just a party movie, but a movie that takes every single element of the nineties and stacks it together in to a ninety minute teen comedy. “Can’t Hardly Wait” is a movie I’ve had a long history of loving and hating. I spent my teen years watching this movie on cable at least thirty times, then grew to loathe it, and then many years later, I’ve kind of grown fond of it, and its simplistic yet grand premise. It’s not a funny movie, but it’s one that’s recommended if you want to check out what the decade looked like without artifice–*cough*EmpireRecords*cough*.
Katie Holmes was always prone to playing more glamorous and squeaky clean roles back in 2003, but for “Pieces of April” she’s the center of what is a unique Thanksgiving set film. Peter Hedges film is all at once a funny, heartbreaking, and thought provoking film. It’s a film about redemption, and ultimately about forgiveness. Can we forgive someone who has hurt us over and over? Can we forgive someone who almost went out of our way to hurt us in the past? Can we forgive ourselves for the heinous things we’ve done in the past to our loved ones, if we work hard at redemption?