Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Comfort Food Cinema: Broadcast News

 Cranky Network Manager:  "It must be nice to always believe that you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room."

Jane Craig:  "No. It's awful."

Broadcast News (1987).
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For many people the hey day of romantic comedies was in the 1930s and 40s.  And while I'm a huge fan of rom-coms from this period (His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, anything with Jimmy Stewart), I'm also partial to romantic comedies from the 1980s.  While Broadcast News doesn't exactly fit the mold of romantic comedy perfectly; it's one of my favorites of the era. 

The film follows Jane Craig (Holly Hunter), a gifted, but neurotic news producer.  Her friend and frequent collaborator is Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), a talented writer and investigative journalist who also has secret feelings for Jane.  However, her relationship with Altman, is challenged when her network hires the hunky, but less substantial journalist Tom Grunick (William Hurt).  Tom is a former sports reporter turned anchor  Though he is quickly promoted, he lacks the knowledge and integrity of a journalist like Jane or Aaron.  In spite of their different perspectives on journalism, Jane finds herself falling for Tom.

Albert Brooks really steals the show as Aaron Altman.  He's got some of the funniest lines in the movie.  Even though Altman can be smug and manipulative, it's really hard not to feel for the guy.  He's gifted, super smart, but gets passed over for a promotion because he lacks the charm and attractiveness of Tom.  This jealously towards Tom is only intensified because of his feelings for Jane, and her preference for Tom in spite of all the similarities she and Aaron share and their great chemistry as friends.  In one of the most cringe-inducing scenes of the movie, Aaron gets his shot at becoming an anchor, only to ruin it with an incredible flop sweat attack.

From the fashion to the technology, the film definitely is of the 80s.  Jane has one scene where she's dressed to impress, which does not translate at all to today's fashion.  However, the themes and relationships in the movie are still fresh today.  This is a wickedly funny movie that also has some real heartbreaking moments in it.  If you have not seen it before, or haven't watched it for a while, it's definitely worth checking out!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Guitly Pleasure Pick: Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this week (eh, that makes me old ...) and it's another one that basically* holds up after all this time. It masquerades as a romance, but at the heart it's a coming of age story set in high school (this is a John Hughes movie after all).

Sam (Molly Ringwald) is soon to turn sixteen, but that milestone is overshadowed by her older sister's impending wedding, the arrival of extended family, and the arrival of a foreign exchange student. While all of these external forces are swirling, Sam is faced with the usual high school social pressures, and, of course, her first major crush Jake (Michael Schoeffling) - who's a popular Senior. Oh, and she's got a nerd (played by a baby-faced Anthony Michael Hall) that has a crush on her. Bonus: John Cusak has bit part as a nerd friend of Anthony Michael Hall. 

Sixteen Candles is lighter and funnier than the other main Molly Ringwald/John Hughes movies such as Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club. I find Ringwald to be her most likeable in this film. There are many quotable lines and situational humor - the bantering between Sam and her siblings is quite realistic from my experience. I also enjoy Paul Dooley who plays Sam's father - their close relationship is a nice detail.

*The main problem it faces is the characterization of the foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong (played by Gedde Watanabe). At least the Asian character is played by an Asian-American actor (unlike Breakfast at Tiffany's).

Sixteen Candles
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