Sunday, August 31, 2014

CWE: "Just One of the Guys" (1985)

Summary: After losing a newspaper internship contest, Terry dresses as a guy and starts attending another school in order to apply again and prove that it was sexism that caused her first rejection.

This movie must have been on cable 1,000 times when I was young and I must have watched in 900 of those times. Before my current interest in movies with interesting gay characters, I clearly had an interest in movies about girls who dress up as boys. Put this one with "Dragonslayer" as one of my favorites when I was a kid.

I'm writing some of these notes before I actually start watching the movie -- I'm catching up on last week's "Days of Our Lives" first -- and trying to decide how I feel about it. I more or less remember it as a slightly atypical '80s teen sex comedy (only without most of the sex). But I'm thinking about it and it actually has a relatively strong feminist slant, at least in some aspects. There are a lot of not so great elements of it, I'm sure, but Terry starts out as pretty privileged and learns not that she has to work harder because she's a woman, but that she needs to work harder to be a better writer generally. She gets a wake up call that her frat boy college boyfriend likes her for who he wants her to be, not who she wants to be, and he has no real interest in her career aspirations. She finds friendship in people who she routinely ignored in her own life, and while Terry was never really a bully, she sees how she regularly dismissed it when her old friends/boyfriend bullied others. In the end, of course, she falls for the nerdy guy (who's not really so nerdy under those glasses -- trope switch alert that still manages to completely uphold the trope!).
  • Wow, Terry's long hair is kinda awful. But I have to remember -- 1985.
  • I knew very few girls in high school who wore tight skirts and high heels to school regularly, so I'm always a little annoyed when I see all the outfits in high school movies, but then ... I did know some people who did. And a lot of the side/background players are wearing jeans and t-shirts, so it's actually probably not that bad.
  • Joyce Hyser is an interested choice to play Terry. She needs to be pretty and sexy enough to be considered the "hot girl," but not so much that she can't successfully pull off pretending to be a guy. They put her in lots of revealing clothes to emphasize the sexy.
  • The way they regularly ignore Buddy's horrible sexism is so icky. Although Terry does sorta call him on it.
  • She should be a model? Again, Joyce Hyser is very pretty but I can't quite see that. She doesn't have the height, for one.
  • I could do without the lesson on how to scratch your balls. And the terrible walking lessons.
  • William Zabka! The traditional 1980s movie high school villain.
  • Oh, wait, Rick the nerdy guy doesn't actually have glasses. I thought that he did. He just has what today would be considered a very hipster sense of style.
  • Terry also needs to stop talking to people. It's an interesting look at male/female social response, actually -- she constantly feels the need to be friendly, to explain, to be part of the social group. I'm not saying that all women feel this way, of course, but a girl like Terry, who has been popular and who has probably had those traditional social behaviors drilled into her, finds herself instinctively behaving in the expected way.
  • I also appreciate that they aren't ignoring the reality of her trying to pass as a boy -- going into the men's room and finding urinals and no stalls on the doors, trying to figure out how to get dressed in the locker room (although they have WAY too much time in there. Classes are usually like an hour, right? Just the locker room stuff takes forever). Yeah, it's largely played for laughs, but I'm glad it's not ignored.
  • Also, why is that kid wearing a crop top in gym class?
  • There's a "guys have struggles too" message here.
  • I always remember Terry's suggestion to replace a missing earring back with a pencil eraser. I may have actually done that once.
  • I have a very hard time believing that any school would let a student carry live animals -- of any kind, let alone a snake -- around.
  • The gay slurs can also stop, although they feel real for a 1980's high school experience.
  • Took a break to get dressed and go grocery shopping. And I'm dying my hair, so we will be interrupted again.
  • At least they introduce the idea that Terry going on a date with Sandy is unkind. Jill being in 6th grade is deeply creepy.
  • Interestingly, I noticed that the patio doors were not closed all the way in an earlier scene, and now that's how Terry gets back in the house.
  • Although Terry's boyfriend is a bit of a jerk, I feel kinda bad for him -- why can't Terry just tell him? Or, at least, tell him that she's working on a project and will be out of touch for a week or so.
  • Look! Rick was pretty all along
  • It's interesting to see Deborah make the same excuses for her boyfriend that Terry typically makes for hers.
  • Rick's new look is so painfully 1985. Popped collar!
  • Also, Rick is starting to think that Terry likes him.
  • The days when random people could just wander into a school...
  • Someone needs to teach Buddy about personal space.
  • Wow, that extra's shorts are really short.
  • Also, Deborah needs a bra.
  • "Kevin really likes this outfit." The skirt is cute, but the top is not good.
  • Yeah, calling journalism a hobby is not the way to your girlfriend's heart.
  • Isn't hitting on a girl at her prom while she's dancing with another guy at least a little skeezy?
  • What's with all the fingerless gloves?
  • I think Terry sounds her girliest when she screams.
  • "Where did you people learn to fight?"
  • Naturally, Rick is a good fighter too.
  • The gay panic isn't appreciated, but at least Rick isn't a complete jerk about it.
  • The only actual topless scene - Terry flashing Rick.
  • I guess kissing a guy in front of your boyfriend is a pretty clear sign that you're breaking up.
  • Maybe it's just me, but I rarely sit around writing in my underwear.
  • Electric typewriter! Hi 1985!
  • So I guess it's just OK that Terry missed a few weeks of school?
  • "Wait a minute. I'm the guy here. Let me just try this, huh?" I could do without the emphasis that Rick is the man in this relationship now.
  • Saturday, August 16, 2014

    CWE: "Juno" (2007)

    Summary: After having sex with her best friend, high school student Juno finds herself pregnant. She decides to give the baby to Mark and Vanessa in a private adoption.

    I don't think I'm going to do my usual bullet point this for this one. I know that this movie has its detractors, but I like it a lot. Yes, the dialogue tries way too hard, especially at the start, and there's a solid dose of quirk for quirk's sake, but I really like Ellen Page. Her face breaks my heart. And pretty much all of the actors in the movie are great, although to be honest, I've never really loved Jennifer Garner -- although she works very well here. I like that, although Mark seems like the cool one and Vanessa like the uptight bad guy, Mark is actually a weak, sketchy guy who doesn't want to grow up while Vanessa is an actual adult. Also: random Daniel Clark (from early Degrassi)! And no cell phones is weird. And J.K. Simmons is awesome.

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    CWE: "The Journey of Natty Gann" (1985)

    Summary: After her father leaves for a job in Washington state, promising to send for her once he earns enough money, Depression-era teen Natty sets out by herself from Chicago to find him.

    • Quite possibly the most family-friendly DVD that I own! It's Disney, no less.
    • Also, I have loved this movie since I was a kid. It's also probably the source of my lingering affection for John Cusack.
    • This is clearly not any kind of remastered video. I'm watching the DVD and it's still kinda jittery over the opening credits. Also, I can't imagine opening credits like this today -- just light yellow text on a black screen. And, like, a ton of credits too, not just title and stars.
    • Ray Wise is *so young*.
    • Meredith Salenger was only 15 when she made this, not much older than the character's age. John Cusack was 19.
    • Oh, it's 1985. Let's clarify that Mr. Gann is *not* a Communist, despite being a union leader.
    • Someone put this on a list of "worst movies of all time." Not even close, even if it wasn't a favorite of mine. They put "Mad Max" on that list too, so I'm inclined to think them an idiot.
    • Oh, it looks like Natty doesn't just up and leave; the woman who's supposed to be watching her decides that she's too much trouble and reports her as abandoned.
    • Jumping to get on the train seems like a good way to get hurt.
    • Oh, yes, the wolf.
    • Train crash!
    • Aw, the wolf brought her a dead bunny. I appreciate that she knew that she needed to clean and skin it, but obviously had no idea what she was doing.
    • Sadly, my cat will not let me use him as a pillow like that.
    • Somewhat kindly farmers. Well, kind wife and not very nice husband.
    • Foxes in the henhouse!
    • And reports of the train crash get back to Natty's father, who assumes that she's dead.
    • Given that this is a G-rated Disney movie, I don't expect it to deal too much with the fact that she's a 12-year-old girl on her own with a lot of older men. There are a few subtle nods to reality, though, like with Parker trying to put his arm around her.
    • Lucky she picked the right car trunk to hide in or her escape from the orphanage place would have been very brief.
    • See, that's what you get when you expect the rough-looking blacksmith to be a bad guy. He goes and saves your wolf.
    • Ah. "You're a pretty thing, you know that?" There it is.
    • I know it's a dummy, but pretty effective shot of the guy falling with the tree.
    • I've been trying to track Natty's journey on a map. They mentioned the town where she was, but I got distracted and forgot the name. The train crash was in Colorado and she's heading to Seattle, so I'm guessing Wyoming or Idaho at this point. Maybe even Oregon.
    • Look! Harry (Cusack) is back.
    • I rewound. River Bend. which is in ... yeah, I'm not sure.
    • The friendship drifting toward romance between Natty and Harry is kinda sweet and kinda creepy. She is 12 and he's probably supposed to be around 18. But it's also pretty innocent.
    • Oh, the pan and scan/cropped image has never been more noticeable than in this scene, with her talking to him off camera
    • I'd like to think that Natty goes to find Harry at some point in the future, you know, when she's not 12.
    • Jed is a pretty dog (or, you know, malamute-wolf mix). Died in 1995.
    • I'm not entirely sure why they are blowing up trees now. And, apparently, doing their best to kill the workers.
    • Also, I get why she's upset that her father apparently passed by without seeing her, but isn't he just headed toward the base camp? And can't she find him there? The woman there knows that she's looking for him, so I'd think that he'd wait for her.
    • Sweet ending reunion.

    Saturday, August 09, 2014

    CWE: "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (2001)

    Summary: After learning that the "Bluntman and Chronic" comics that Banky and Holden drew based on them are being turned into a movie, Jay and Silent Bob go to Hollywood to either get the compensation they deserve or prevent the movie from being made.

    I warn you up front, I'm so not in the mood for this one. And I'll probably only pay about 1/100th of my attention to it. But I've reached a bottleneck and need to push through!
    • We start at the Clerks convenience store.
    • And now Brodie from Mallrats. The comments about every studio buying up comic books to turn them into movies is even more relevant now than it was in 2001.
    • Holden! With meta commentary about the juvenile humor in the movies that Kevin Smith kept making... and about Ben Affleck.
    • Mooby's. Was trying to remember where this one fell in sequence with "Clerks II" -- despite Dante and Randal being in the Quick Stop at the beginning.
    • I do like the guys trying to get comfortable standing in front of a different convenience store.
    • I have a lot less patience for the gay jokes and the aggressive objectification of women than I used to, I guess.
    • And far too many glances at the camera.
    • Hee hee hee. Cyril! (aka Scott William Winters)
    • Also, I really love Jason Lee's smile. And yes, Banky is gay.

    Saturday, August 02, 2014

    "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)

    Previews: Interstellar, Dumb and Dumber To; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Annie; Big Hero 6

    So. I'd heard a lot of very good things about "Guardians of the Galaxy" and it was a very fun movie. But somehow I expected something just a little more. The animation work for Rocket and Groot was very good -- and Groot was just great generally. But maybe it was the overcrowded theater, or the guy next to me who kept looking at his phone, or the endless parade of HITG!s (Lee Pace (yes, I knew he was in it), John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Sean Gunn, Peter Serafinowicz, Sharif Atkins, Brendan Fehr, Emmett Scanlan ... and I didn't even recognize Nathan Fillion!), but I never really got completely wrapped up in it. It was so much more sci-fi than most modern comic book movies have been, which is kinda cool. Somehow, I wanted something just slightly more.


    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    CWE: "Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi" (2005)

    Summary: Jay and Silent Bob go to Canada to shoot a film at Degrassi High.

    Episode 1 ("West End Girls"):
    • OK, my Degrassi history: Once upon a time, The N (formerly "Noggin," now "Teen Nick") used to show Daria. I love Daria. But peppered all through it were commercials for Degrassi (and other shows). I finally caved in. Then watched everything I could get my hands on, including the original series.
    • I haven't watched Degrassi for the past few seasons, but I did keep up with it long past this point. It's so weird to see all the old characters! Paige! JT isn't dead! Principal Raditch! Emma still looks like a normal girl! Craig isn't a total druggy yet!
    • Is Marco not out yet?
    • Oh, Paige being bitchy. She's always bitchy, but develops into a much more realistic person. I always liked her.
    • Ashley! Her, I never liked.
    • Wow, deliberately dropping Paige is just cruel. I don't care how mean she is, trying to get her hurt is awful.
    • Jimmy! It's Drake! OK, I'll stop just saying actor/character names now. He looks sad, in his wheelchair.
    • Ugh. Why is Toby being all creepy? He was a nice guy.
    • Aw, Jimmy wins prom king
    Episode 2 ("Going Down The Road"):
    • Alanis Morrisette! OK, I said that I'd stop.
    • Aw, Jimmy is playing basketball in the opening credits. Before he gets paralyzed.
    • I can't remember why Craig hates Spinner and Jay (Degrassi character Jay). I'm guessing it's related to Jimmy's shooting and the bullying...
    • Hee hee hee. Ellie looks ridiculously fake goth.
    • "Ha, you're lying. "Mallrats" is no one's favorite Kevin Smith film."
    • I remember kinda liking Craig when they first introduced him (a very broken character, my fav), but man -- he really becomes a stalkerish jerk very quickly. It's also interesting how he kinda uses the bipolar diagnosis as an excuse. Not to not do things, but "oh, I have bipolar disorder so you won't let me do anything" when actually, having a serious illness that's maybe not completely under control is a darn good excuse for him not to be allowed to go to London by himself for some undetermined amount of time.
    • Everybody thinks Craig is off his meds. I forgot that so much of this series of episodes is about Craig (and Ashley).
    • Caitlin kissing Kevin Smith. Odd.
    • So Craig just stops taking his meds. Gah, kids.
    • Spike! We've seen no Spike or Snake before now. Where is Snake?
    • Craig goes to live in the school boiler room, as you do. And Caitlin is supposed to be a terrible actress.
    • Hey, it's Kevin's wife!
    • "Oh my god, who are you now?"
    • "All I know is that making a movie with a bunch of high school kids? Way worse than making a movie with Ben Affleck."
    • And Craig runs away. Again, I forgot how much of this is about him.
    • Just leave your expensive guitar with the homeless guy, Craig. While you go spend money (that I'm assuming your "terrible" step-father gave you) at the coffee shop. Also, Craig has an honestly terrible father -- physically and emotionally abusive. You'd think he'd know the difference.
    • "Shouldn't you be directing?" "Like I know how to direct."
    • Canadian Ninjas!
    • People keep interrupting filming.
    • Shocking, the guy beats Craig up and steals his guitar. Idiot.
    • Wow, this episode is over an hour long. I'm used to them being much shorter. Oh, actually, maybe it's both parts of this two-part episode.
    • "Who calls himself "Skinny" anyway?" "Who calls himself Snake? Or Wheels?"
    • "Jay and Silent Bob Go To Canada, Eh?" looks truly awful.
    • OK, what's with the rapping at the end? Is that Drake? (I think everything is Drake. It's probably not him.)

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014