Version Variations: Pete’s Dragon (1977, 2016)

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To some, a forest holds mere trees,
With empty air between,
While one who knows to notice sees
A firmament of green,
Of life and lives and rarities
That few have ever seen.

What wonderments may hide out there
I cannot dare to guess,
But those who speak of creatures rare,
Withdrawn from man’s progress,
Perhaps perceive that empty air
Cannot be magicless.
_________________

MPAA rating for 1977 version: G (maybe PG)
MPAA rating for 2016 version: PG

With Disney so dedicated now to translating its past canon of animated classics into live-action films, it’s rather disconcerting that their attempts thus far have been fan favorites, like Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast, but not the lesser entries in Disney’s catalog. While remakes of The Black Cauldron and The Sword in the Stone are supposedly in the works and would be welcome, Pete’s Dragon is the first recent remake that actually had a chance of surpassing the original simply because the original is fairly lame. Yet, even though a simple updating of the tale could have sufficed, writer-director David Lowery took the essentials of the first story and transformed them into something closer in spirit to E.T. than to their source, providing an example of improvement for future Disney remakes to follow.

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Let’s take a look at the original, a film whose “classic” status is more reliant on its age than anything else. The first Pete’s Dragon sees young Pete and his sometimes invisible dragon Elliott escape from a wicked foster family and seek a home in the seaside town of Passamaquoddy, where kind lighthouse keepers (Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy) take him in and sneaky snake-oil salesmen (Jim Dale, Red Buttons) plot to capture Elliott. It’s a family-friendly musical in the vein of Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the key difference being that it came out in 1977, a less innocent time when ultra-sincere stories like this began tasting too saccharine.

The silly musical numbers and childish wish fulfillment simply don’t work as well here, thanks to some dreadfully gee-whiz acting from young Sean Marshall as Pete. There’s a notable lack of Disney magic, perhaps due to a new generation of animators (including Don Bluth) taking the reins at the time, and some elements are downright unpleasant, like the abusive backwoods Gogans, headed by Shelley Winters, who want Pete as their personal slave. The songs range from forgettable to embarrassing, but Helen Reddy’s “Candle on the Water” is a beautiful exception and even earned an Oscar nomination.

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I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on the original Pete’s Dragon. If I’d seen it as a kid, maybe I’d consider it a classic, as I do Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The merging of animation and live-action is actually done quite well, and there are some fun moments sprinkled throughout the tiresome ones, like Mickey Rooney’s panic over seeing Elliott or the visiting mountebank who can’t pronounce the name of the town he claims to love. It was also neat seeing Jim Backus of Gilligan’s Island appearing as the town’s mayor. By the overly heartwarming ending, I even was able to recognize why others might find this as charming as Elliott himself. Yet my adult sensibilities couldn’t let me overlook its glaring flaws and often laughable excesses, like the soap opera twist at the end that explains away a character’s year-long absence with amnesia. With these earnest family films, it’s a fine line between delightful and cloying, and Pete’s Dragon is one member of the Disney canon that could have certainly benefited from a remake done right.

Thankfully, almost forty years later, that remake arrived. I debated on whether to call this review a Cartoon Comparison or a Version Variation since the original’s dragon was animated and the latest Elliot was CGI, but since CGI is still animation, I opted for a Version Variation. (Did anyone else notice that the 1977 dragon was named Elliott with two t’s, while the more recent one was Elliot with one t?) Yes, in the 2016 version of Pete’s Dragon, there’s still a boy named Pete and a giant invisible green dragon, but that’s really all this film has in common with the original. Gone are the brutish hillbillies. Gone is Dr. Terminus, the greedy charlatan. Gone are the musical numbers and the silly tone. Whereas established fairy tale films are expected to follow the same beats as their predecessors, Pete’s Dragon took the bare minimum of inspiration from the 1977 movie and made something new yet affectionate out of it.

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Young Pete (Oakes Fegley) is still an orphan, but the beginning actually shows the loss of his parents and how his first encounter with Elliot saves him, after which the boy grows up as a wild child with his protective dragon friend in the remote woods of the Pacific Northwest. In place of Helen Reddy’s beer cask-skipping lighthouse keeper, Bryce Dallas Howard is pleasantly down-to-earth as Forest Ranger Grace Meacham, and her father (Robert Redford) still tells tall tales of spotting an enormous dragon out in the woods. When Pete is discovered and falls into Grace’s charge, the same familial bonds and adoptive hopes develop as in the first film, only done better and with more subtlety. In lieu of the covetous swindler who wants Elliott for elixir ingredients, the villain role goes to Karl Urban as Gavin, the brother of Grace’s lumberjack boyfriend. His desire to capture a fantastical creature isn’t the most original element, but he’s more like Peter Coyote’s man with the keys from E.T. than an outright villain, and a good moment toward the end reaffirms that he does care more for his family than about fame and fortune.

The latest Pete’s Dragon is perhaps a bit too slow in spots, but it’s an appealing contrast to the frantic comedy of most family fare these days. Unlike the 1977 film, all of the human performances are natural and endearing, and Elliot himself is masterfully brought to life in all his fluffy green dragon glory, behaving like a giant dog at times, which is perhaps different from the whistling original but not at all in a negative way. And as a huge Lindsey Stirling fan, I have to mention her lovely and wistful song “Something Wild” that easily makes my End Credits Song Hall of Fame and was my #4 song of last year.

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Of all the live-action remakes Disney has created and planned, Pete’s Dragon seemed an unlikely contender, with a lackluster original with limited appeal. Yet even if it’s not the most entertaining entry, Pete’s Dragon may be the best live-action translation yet. While Cinderella and The Jungle Book did their sources justice, 2016’s Pete’s Dragon blows its predecessor out of the water, from the much more intimate change in tone to the uplifting final scene that offers a happy ending to Elliot as well as Pete. Notably distinct without the need to be edgy or revisionist, it’s a gentle remake that Disney would do well to learn from.

Best line from 1977 version:  (Merle Gogan) “Say, have you seen anything of a mean, fresh kid, about yea big? Answers to the name of Pete.”  (Hoagy) “Half of the kids here in this town answer to Pete. Other half don’t answer.”

Best line from 2016 version:  (Mr. Meacham) “There’s magic in the woods, if you know where to look for it.”

 

Rank for the 1977 version: Dishonorable Mention
Rank for the 2016 version: List Runner-Up

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
484 Followers and Counting

 

Opinion Battles Round 8 – Favourite Car Chase Scene

Last call to vote for your favorite movie car chase in Round 8 of Opinion Battles. There have been many great ones over the years, but I had to go with the deadpan mayhem of The Blues Brothers. Pick your favorite too!

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 8

Favourite Car Chase Scene

Each year we seem to see an action film go out of its way to make sure we get a more jaw-dropping car chase scene. These will often become the most iconic scenes in what can be average action films but every time we sit at the edge of our seat filled with tension to what will be happening next. Today we will pick our favourite car chase scenes.

If you want to join in the next round of Opinion Battles we will be looking at our Favourite Talking Animals. If you want to take part email your choices to moviereviews101@yahoo.co.ukby 30th April 2017

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Car Chase Including Fight – The Raid 2

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VC Pick: Funny Lady (1975)

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It’s easy being funny
When you’re wallowing in money
With your sweet and faithful honey
Waiting lovingly at hand,
But when assets aren’t as runny
And the outlook’s less than sunny,
Not as much is fun or funny,
As the jokers understand.

Though life enjoys unveiling
Every foible, flaw, and failing,
Making efforts unavailing,
One’s good humor perseveres,
So while waiting, maybe wailing,
For a way to smoother sailing,
It’s important and unfailing
To keep laughing through the tears.
____________________

MPAA rating: PG (PG-13 is better due to language)

When I first saw Barbra Streisand’s Oscar-winning performance in Funny Girl, I wasn’t aware she had reprised the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Lady seven years later. It took my VC to suggest seeing this less prestigious follow-up, and honestly it proves that Hollywood’s fondness for unnecessary and unsatisfying sequels is nothing new.

Following the sad conclusion of Funny Girl, where Brice’s marriage to Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif) broke up amid financial tension and scandal, Funny Lady sees Brice solid in her stardom but struggling for work like everyone else due to the Great Depression. Enter James Caan as smooth-talking songwriter and showman Billy Rose, whose ego dwarfs Fanny’s diva mentality to the point that he advertises her as part of his new show without even asking her first. Annoyed but somehow charmed, she agrees, and their working relationship gradually turns to romance.

I can’t say that Streisand and Caan aren’t good in their roles, but they had hardly any chemistry, in sharp contrast to Sharif’s allure in the first film. Fanny’s songful suggestion that her second relationship is better thus feels hollow when their bond seems founded on the fact that they can simply yell at each other without either taking it personally.

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I suppose Funny Girl’s tragic romance had more impact because it was preventable, torn apart by Nicky’s pride opposite Fanny’s success; here, Billy Rose’s huckster personality seemed inevitably fated for marital friction and infidelity, and it’s no surprise when things fall apart again. Worsening matters is Fanny’s confrontation with her first husband (Sharif returns), where she confesses to starry-eyed naiveté in the face of his selfishness. It may be true, but it’s not empowering as she intends it to be; instead, it’s sad that all of her romances were doomed from the start, robbing her of even the memory of a happy love life.

Aside from Streisand’s intermittent comedic skits, what makes Funny Lady watchable is the musical numbers, though there are far fewer show-stopping numbers than the first film, and none are as memorable as “People” or “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” In fact, it’s ironic that the best number goes not to Streisand, but to Ben Vereen as one of Fanny’s vaudeville cohorts, an exuberant rendition of “Clap Hands! Here Comes Charley!” that made me wish the rest of Vereen’s performance hadn’t been cut out before release. I’m actually rather surprised the film earned five Oscar nominations, including Cinematography, Score, and Original Song. If you enjoyed Funny Girl or are a fan of Streisand or Caan, Funny Lady may be worth your time, but don’t expect a feel-good classic.

 

Rank: Honorable Mention

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
482 Followers and Counting

 

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

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One day when aliens arrive, I wonder how they’ll be.
We’ve seen it all on film and page,
From sudden, savage wars to wage
To peaceful coexistent folk
We must take care to not provoke,
Though they’re the rarer sort we see.

More often, they’re the hostile type, who simply want a fight,
For resources or new terrains
Or guinea pigs to harvest brains.
And when the flying saucers land
For real, we won’t know what they’ve planned,
But likely most will fear the sight.

We’ve taught ourselves suspicion of the sky through new releases,
For not all otherworldly guests are charmed by Reese’s Pieces.
__________________

MPAA rating: PG-13

Well, I finally got around to seeing one of the most maligned films of last year, a follow-up to the alien invasion/disaster favorite Independence Day that has been widely derided as a wholly detestable flop of a sequel, but contrary to popular opinion, I liked it all right. True, coming twenty years after the 1996 original, it’s not as good as the first, but it’s not an affront to the original either, thanks to the return of director Roland Emmerich and most of the original cast members, with the key exception of Will Smith.

One thing I liked is the appealing way that the world has risen from the ashes of the first movie’s events. Thanks to remnants of alien technology, it’s more of a sci-fi world with moon bases and flying vehicles, and after facing potential annihilation, the political tensions have subsided in favor of utopian cooperation between countries. Sure, it’s probably wishful thinking, but I found it believable that the Independence Day invasion has become a shared 9/11-style memory for the world. Yet, there are still scars, from the mental trauma of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) to the constant worry that there might be an even more insidious “resurgence.”  And guess what? There is, and mankind isn’t the only race to prepare for a rematch!

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Resurgence does its best balancing the return of original cast members (Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, even Brent Spiner, whose Dr. Okun apparently wasn’t killed by that surgery scene gone wrong) with newer faces like Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, and Jessie Usher as fighter pilots who have grown up in the wake of the alien invasion. Playing the son of Smith’s character, Usher doesn’t have the same swagger or sense of humor, which instead go to the less memorable Hemsworth, and the ensemble doesn’t really leave room for much depth for any of the characters, with death scenes and the like being such quick tragedies that they leave little impression. Moreover, the higher-tech action tries to exceed the first film for explosive bombast and extensive but barely seen loss of life, just as the alien mother ship here dwarfs the ships from the first invasion.

And for those who hated this movie, everything I just said in that paragraph is a negative, but does it have to be? I tend to think that many have forgotten just how cheesy, rambling, and overblown the first film was; it’s not great filmmaking, but that cheese factor is its appeal. We get to see a wide swath of mankind facing off against alien invaders, with nerds, Air Force pilots, and Presidents banding together to save the world. Resurgence does more or less the same thing, along with many self-conscious tributes to the original formula, from a comment about destroying landmarks to a narrow escape that just has to save the dog.

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Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty to criticize, like character changes (both Smith and Goldblum’s wife are written off as dead from the start, and Okun is revealed as gay for some reason), unoriginal plot developments (another giant alien queen), and a final scene that’s begging for a sequel I doubt will happen. Then again, who thought this sequel would happen? I just feel that there’s still effects-heavy fun to be had for those who don’t expect much. You don’t watch this kind of movie for drama, characters, or emotional involvement, though what there is of those is decent. It’s watchable because it’s a disaster, perhaps in more ways than one, and some people just want to watch the world explode.

Best line: (former President Whitmore) “We convinced an entire generation that this is a battle that we could win. We sacrifice for each other no matter what the cost. And that’s worth fighting for.”

 

Rank: List Runner-Up

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
482 Followers and Counting

 

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985)

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Mothers are ours from the start of our lives,
The source from which much of our own self derives.
Our culture and friends,
Open doors and dead ends
May shape who we are,
But their impact depends
On the person who held us and taught right from wrong
And lived an example both tender and strong.

All moms are different; some dote, some oppress.
Some pick you apart; some are quick to impress.
And some are so dear,
Sharing each joy and fear,
That it’s hard to conceive
Of a day or an eve
Without her near-eternal, maternal sunshine.
It’s those we love most and why I so love mine.
_____________________

MPAA rating: PG

A very Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there and to my own in particular. Hi, Mom! I’ll admit I picked this film to review today due to its maternal themes offering an excuse to write the above poem, but I do wish it were a better film overall for Mother’s Day (certainly not on par with Wolf Children, which was my Mother’s Day review last year). I watched Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart with my mom, hoping it would be an understated gem, and while it’s definitely understated, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a gem, despite its 100% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Dim Sum focuses on the uneventful lives of the Chinese-American family of Geraldine Tam (Laureen Chew), who cares for her old-fashioned immigrant mother (Kim Chew; I’m still not sure if the actresses were actually related). Her mom seems content with her quiet life but is always encouraging Geraldine to get married, and her goading grows fatalistic as Mrs. Tam enters the year it was foretold she would die. While I’ve seen the film described as a comedy, the chuckles are few and far between, but Victor Wong adds some genial charm as Mrs. Tam’s barkeeper brother-in-law.

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Events move along with a snail-paced eye for detail, particularly the unique blending of American and Chinese culture, such as changing from shoes to slippers at the front door. Since she mainly interacts with her close-knit Chinese friends, Mrs. Tam strictly speaks Chinese, while Wong’s more outgoing character freely converses in English. This contrast extends to the generational divide between Geraldine and her mom, as evidenced in a scene of Mrs. Tam’s mahjong club of women friends, followed by an identical game in English with their second-generation daughters.

I have no doubt that Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart is a realistic glimpse of Chinese-American life in San Francisco, and director Wayne Wang’s fondness for it is felt throughout. However, the extended scenes of little happening grow boring after a while, and the slightly heartwarming but open-ended conclusion doesn’t quite make the watch worthwhile. My mom did get a nostalgic kick out of some extremely ‘80s moments, like a mention of Betamax, but the strongest point I got from Dim Sum was when Mrs. Tam has a health scare. Since Geraldine never learned her mom’s traditional Chinese recipes, Uncle Tam mourns the classic dishes that will inevitably be lost forever. It’s a relatable and sobering reflection that transcends culture, since my own mom also wishes my grandmother had shown her more of her home cooking before she died. Luckily, my mom has written down and taught me many of her own recipes, so at least I won’t be left without the re-creatable memory of her food. Even if Dim Sum drags with its tranquil restraint, at least its “Little Bit of Heart” feels genuine.

 

Rank: Honorable Mention

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
482 Followers and Counting

 

The List of My Lists

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As much as I enjoy compiling my periodic lists, it hit me that I didn’t actually have a page listing them. So, apart from the List of my Top 365 movies, with its incarnations at the top, here are the smaller lists I’ve posted thus far, including my Top Twelves, my Top 50 Movie Scores countdown, blogiversary lists, and special features like Cartoon Comparisons and Version Variations. I guarantee I’ll be adding to it with more lists to come, and at least now I have a central place to index them. I’m such a list nerd!

My Top Twelves

Movies :

Musical Numbers

Time Travel Movies

Anime Films (An update is coming soon.)

Movie Quotes No One Seems to Remember

Scary Movies

Meet-‘Em-and-Move-On Movies

Movie Corn

Movie Elevators

Movie Doors

Poems in Movies

Rain Scenes in Movies

Candy in Movies

Movie Final Scenes

Disney Animated Movies

Pens in Movies

Scenes Seen in 2016

Films of 2016

 

Music:

Na Na Na Songs

Coldplay Songs

Contemporary Christian Songs

End Credits Song Hall of Fame

Lindsey Stirling Songs

Fast-Sung Songs

Songs of 2016

Head-Banging Songs

 

TV:

Favorite TV Series

Star Trek: Voyager Musical Highlights

Star Trek: Voyager Episodes

 

Blogiversaries:

2nd Blogiversary List Additions

3rd Blogiversary List Additions

 

Top 50 Movie Scores :

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Full List

 

Cartoon Comparisons:

Ordinary People (1980) / Colorful (2010)

Sleeping Beauty (1959) / Maleficent (2014)

Metropolis (1927) / Metropolis (2001)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) / The Dark Knight Returns (2012)

Upside Down (2012) / Patema Inverted (2014)

 

Version Variations:

True Grit (1969, 2010)

Of Mice and Men (1939, 1992)

Adventures in Babysitting (1987, 2016)

A Star Is Born (1937, 1954, 1976)

Good News (1947)

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I’ve good news and bad news for those still alone,
Who pine for somebody to love as their own.
The good news is that there is someone for you,
Who’s hoping there’s someone for them to love too.
They’re out there, out somewhere, far off or close by;
You’re made for each other, as tales testify.

The bad news is that things may get in the way,
Like not recognizing true romance at play.
In not waiting long enough, you might pick wrong,
And they may do likewise, not where they belong.
Beware the missed moments and chances you shirk;
Your own asininity may be at work.

So keep an eye out for that promised soul mate,
And you may have good news to soon celebrate.
___________________

MPAA rating: Approved (an easy G)

After enjoying the compilation of classic MGM musical numbers in That’s Entertainment! and its Part II, I had to satisfy my curiosity over at least one of the featured films that caught my eye. The educational setting and youthful dance scenes of Good News made me think of it as a forerunner to High School Musical, and indeed that’s what it is. Just as Grease predated High School Musical, Good News anticipated Grease, and its romantic entanglements backed by buoyant musicality are still entertaining all these decades later.

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While those later films were set in high school, though, Good News takes place at Tait College, the kind of carefree movie college where studies take a backseat to parties and football games. Peter Lawford plays the ever-confident athlete Tommy, while June Allyson fills the role of the mousy school librarian Connie, both of whom discover each other when Lawford’s smitten hotshot tries to impress the gold-digging it-girl, played by Patricia Marshall. The wholesome interactions between romance-seeking students brought to mind the original Archie comics, even incorporating a jealous bully named Beef (as opposed to Moose) who makes up part of an adjacent love triangle.

The story may remind you of many imitators since, but Good News is good clean fun, though I understand it’s a remake of a racier Pre-Code version from 1930. The best part is clearly the musical scenes, many of which feel like lesser-known classics, like “The Best Things in Life Are Free” or “Lucky in Love,” which benefits from the smooth voice of Mel Tormé.  Between the lyrical cleverness (“The French Lesson”) and the exuberant dancing (“Pass That Peace Pipe,” which was nominated for a Best Song Oscar), Good News has tuneful talent and charm to spare.

Best line: (Tommy, when chided on speaking French) “Guess I can’t help it, Poochy. Language comes easy to me. I’ve only been in class five days, and already I speak like a native. I don’t know of what country, but, uh, like a native.”

 

Rank: List Runner-Up

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
480 Followers and Counting

 

My Top Twelve Head-Banging Songs

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After a whole month of NaPoWriMo poems, I don’t want anyone to think I just sit around watching movies and thinking up words that rhyme with orange. Like everyone else, I have a wild side too, even if claiming I have a wild side probably means it’s rather tame, but the best way to manifest it for me is to listen to the head-banging goodness of rock and/or good pop music. These are songs that I can’t help but let loose and bash my cranium against the atmosphere. (Warning: Bashing one’s head against the atmosphere is a known cause of headaches, seeing spots, and other forms of dain bramage. Bash responsibly.)

I feel I should preface this list with a caveat, namely that my taste in what constitutes “head-banging” may be unconventional next to the definition of the hardcore metal-heads out there. For me, it’s a fine line between “head-banging” and just noise, so the majority of metal does not appeal to me, and the same goes for a lot of hard rock with those endless guitar solos. I think my list is actually pretty varied, but be aware that it’s unlikely to match the majority of similar lists. Because the head-banging quality is rather subjective, I’ll also be including my mom’s list at the end, which errs more on the side of classic rock. That will provide a different generation’s contrasting opinion and show where I got my head-banging genes; there’s an asterisk by my picks that would be runners-up for her list. I don’t know if anyone will agree with my picks here, but at least now I’ll have all of them compiled in one place anytime I feel like giving myself whiplash!

  1. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston (1977) *

Written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert, this catchy tune transitioned from soul to disco when Thelma Houston made it into a hit two years after its original recording by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. The Communards later 80s-fied it in the next decade, but, as good as all three incarnations are, Thelma Houston’s is the best, in my opinion. It killed me when her version was included in the soundtrack of The Martian but was cut off right before it really took off.
 

  1. “Delilah” – Florence and the Machine (2015)

After discovering Florence and the Machine last year, I’ve become quite a fan of their unique sound and Florence Welch’s voice, and I think “Delilah” is the high point of their discography thus far. The way it builds and lets loose after those stark piano notes is genius, making this a good example for my idea of an unconventional head-banger.
 

  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen (1975) *

Well, I don’t think I’ll get much dissent on this one. Thanks to that classic scene from the beginning of Wayne’s World, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is almost synonymous with head-banging (and singing along to weird lyrics). This one speaks for itself.
 

  1. “One More Night” – Cascada (2004), Nightcore version

For those who don’t know what Nightcore is, it’s basically a lazy YouTube version of a remix which just speeds a song up and slaps a random anime picture on it; a side effect is that it sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks, but the faster tempo often enhances the instrumental beats, especially in the Eurodance music of Cascada. Pretty much all of their songs sound even better sped up, but for some reason “One More Night” most gets my head jamming.
 

  1. “Good Time” – Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen (2012)

This little collaboration was one of the most feel-good summer hits in recent years, and it’s a shame that a now-defunct copyright lawsuit kept it off the airwaves for a time. I remember mowing the lawn to this wholesome headbanger back in 2012 and loving every minute of it.
 

  1. “Flyers” – BRADIO (2015)

Have you ever seen an anime series called Death Parade? No? Neither have I, but boy, do I know its opening theme song. Beginning with possibly the greatest opening note of any song, this is upbeat funk at its finest, and I don’t even mind that it’s in Japanese. I especially love the guitar solo.
 

  1. “Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi (1986) *

Possibly Bon Jovi’s biggest hit, “Livin’ on a Prayer” doesn’t know when to culminate. The chorus just keeps building, and it’s head-banging glory.
 

  1. “Timber” – Pitbull, featuring Ke$ha (2013)

As much as I usually detest rap, Pitbull actually has some decent songs to his name, though they’re usually good in spite of his rapping, as is the case with this country-ish dance hit. Leave out the rap entirely, and it’s infinitely better with just Ke$ha’s vocals and that harmonica. This is one I always crank up by the end.
 

  1. “Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon (2015)

Yes, perhaps my subconscious youthful bias for recent music is showing, but “Shut Up and Dance” has a strangely ‘80s vibe to it too. Its dance-floor exhilaration instantly made Walk the Moon one of my favorite modern bands. This song might also have fit on a list of songs I can’t stay still to, but that’s another list and shall be told another time.
 

  1. “Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)

One of the quintessential staples of looooong rock ‘n roll, “Free Bird” isn’t just here to prove I do have a taste for classic rock. It’s simply an undeniably awesome rocker, and I’ll always associate it with that also awesome scene from Elizabethtown with the sprinklers and the flaming bird. There’s also a wistfulness to the tune, especially considering how several of the band members died.
 

  1. “No Way Out” – Vicetone, featuring Kat Nestel (2015)

Oh, this song…this song is like a shot of adrenaline for me, making me wonder why I’d never heard it until recently. When the chorus builds to its climax with those heavy piano notes, I’m lucky if my head doesn’t go flying.
 

  1. “Wake Me Up” – Avicii (2013) *

Like “Timber,” I’ve seen “Wake Me Up” described as folktronica so maybe I should explore that hybrid subgenre more. Sung by Aloe Blacc, this self-confidence anthem may have grown a little less “head-bangy” for me with repeated listens, but it had to be #1. I remember when I used to work late, this song would come on the radio while I was driving home, and I’d let out all the frustrations of the day by giving myself a concussion to this tune. Great stuff!
 
 

Mom’s List

She didn’t have the heart to rank them, so here are my mom’s personal favorite head-bangers in alphabetical order, all of which are runners-up of mine as well:

“Abacab” (Live version) – Genesis

“Don’t Fight It” – Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry

“Free Bird” – Lynryd Skynyrd

“Get It On (Bang a Gong)” – The Power Station

“Long Time” and the whole of the Boston album – Boston

TIE:  “Panama” and “Jump” – Van Halen

TIE:  “Rockin’ the Paradise” and “Come Sail Away” – Styx

“Roll with the Changes” – REO Speedwagon

“Rosalita” – Bruce Springsteen

“Roundabout” – Yes

“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC

“Who’s Behind the Door?” – Zebra
 

And here are my many runners-up, not including my mom’s list above, which also rank among my favorite head-bangers but just couldn’t quite crack the top 12:

“Angel” – angela, opening song to the anime series Coppelion

“Anytime” (Live version) – Journey *

“Carry On, My Wayward Son” – Kansas

“Cherry Pie” – Warrant

“Come with Me Now” – Kongos

“Done” – The Band Perry *

“Don’t Look Back” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” – Boston

“Drumming Song” – Florence and the Machine

“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” – Coldplay

“Get ‘em Up” and “Burn It to the Ground” – Nickelback

“Hell to Your Doorstep” – The Count of Monte Cristo musical

“Hot n Cold” – Katy Perry

“I Bet My Life” – Imagine Dragons

“It’s My Life” – Bon Jovi

“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts version *

“Little Talks” – Of Monsters and Men (just one little part)

“Pour Some Sugar on Me” – Def Leppard

“Pyromania” and “Runaway” – Cascada (Nightcore versions)

“Rock You Like a Hurricane” – Scorpions

“Scream” – High School Musical 3

“Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin *

“Turn Me On” – David Guetta, feat. Nicki Minaj

“Turn Up the Radio” – Autograph *

“Uma Thurman” – Fall Out Boy

“Up All Night” – Hinder

“The Way We Roll” – Newsboys *

“You’re Not Ferb” – from Phineas and Ferb, episode “Invasion of the Ferb Snatchers”
 
 
And I have to end this post with the song that inspired it, Kansas’s “Carry On, My Wayward Son,” which is among my favorite rock songs ever (I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard it), but was sadly beaten off the list by stronger head-banging competition.

Thanks to anyone who banged their heads along with me for this list! (Sorry for any neck injuries.)

VC Pick: Twins (1988)

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Image result for twins 1988 film

If I were a twin, I’d be half of a pair,
Beside myself always, with one me to spare.
We’d wear the same clothes, and without a reveal,
We’d simply switch places whenever we feel.

We’d play mirror games in the door to our room
To see who’d be first to stop copying whom,
And, asked if I had any sibs of my own,
I’d say “I don’t think, but I do have a clone.”

When I stubbed my toe, we would both feel the pain,
As if we’re connected by waves of the brain.
So, happy or sad or aware of a threat,
Our emotions would match like a Gemini set.

That’s how it would be, if I did have a twin,
But I don’t have anyone that close of kin.
I can’t help but wonder what life I would share
If someone like me had been half of a pair.
_____________________

MPAA rating: PG-13

After thirty straight days of NaPoWriMo without touching one of her picks, it’s time to set things right with my faithful Viewing Companion, so I’ll be reviewing three of her chosen movies this month. The first is Twins, the 1988 odd-couple pairing of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, which she chose in response to continued rumors that there will be a sequel called Triplets, co-starring Eddie Murphy of all people.

Image result for twins 1988 film

It’s an absurd notion that Schwarzenegger and DeVito could be brothers, much less twins, but the film knows it and sidesteps the stigma of being unrealistic with a fictitious genetics experiment that involved six fathers and produced one perfect specimen (Schwarzenegger) and one, um, imperfect side effect (DeVito). Where Eddie Murphy will fit in, I don’t know. Since the flawless Julius Benedict is raised on a utopian island, he only learns of his brother as an adult and searches for him, only to discover short Vincent is a two-bit criminal on the edge of a dangerously profitable scheme.

What Twins most reminded me of was 1999’s Blast from the Past, which I also saw and reviewed for the first time recently. Both Brendan Fraser in that film and Schwarzenegger here are clean-cut golden boys raised in isolation, and their first exposure to the big bad world (at age 35 in both) finds humor in their geeky fish-out-of-water charm and naïve misunderstandings of slang. But whereas Fraser was looking for love, Schwarzenegger’s Julius only cares about finding and helping his brother, from saving Vincent from vengeful loan sharks to encouraging that both of them find their long-lost mother (Bonnie Bartlett, whom I recognized from St. Elsewhere).

Twins isn’t quite a constant laugh riot, and its minor classic status owes more to its stars and its age than anything else; but it features a wealth of amusement, thanks to the interplay of DeVito’s comic experience and Schwarzenegger’s surprising capacity for humor—surprising because I believe this was his first entirely comedic role after years of building his action-hero reputation. Schwarzenegger even gets some wink-wink nods to his other films, from his action roots to a line that I think was reused in Batman and Robin. I also liked how the story morphs into a road trip movie, similar to that other 1988 film about someone discovering he has a brother he never knew about. Also along for the ride as joint love interests are the lovely Kelly Preston and Chloe Webb, whom I best know as that crazy alien abduction lady on Venkman’s TV show in Ghostbusters II.

Image result for twins 1988 film kelly preston

Though Twins is one of the lesser classics from director Ivan Reitman, there’s enough buddy humor from the silly premise alone to make it worthwhile, and it actually finds a good deal of heart in Vincent’s realized desire for a family after growing up an orphan. I shudder at what convolutions Triplets may take to wedge in a third absurd sibling, but Twins fulfills its preposterous concept with light-hearted fun.

Best line: (Julius) “Actually, I hate violence.”   (Vincent) “But you’re so good at it!”

 

Rank: List Runner-Up

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
479 Followers and Counting

 

Opinion Battles Round 7 – Favourite Performance in a Comedy Movie by a Non-Comedic Actor

Last call to vote in Round 7 of Opinion Battles, this time for your favorite dramatic actor in an uncharacteristically comedic role. Since that could also mean comedic actors who changed their chosen genre, I had to go with Leslie Nielsen’s brilliantly deadpan doctor from Airplane! Vote for your favorite, and don’t call me Shirley!

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 7

Favourite Performance in a Comedy Movie by a Non-Comedic Actor

Over the years of acting we have had plenty of comedic actors’ nail comedy and move into drama but quite often it has been more difficult going in the over direction. I have loosed the rules on this and will be accepting the first few performances by a serious actor who stepped into comedy and may be doing it a lot more often now.

If you want to take part in the next round of Opinion Battles we will be picking our Favourite Car Chase Scenes. If you want to take part email your choice to moviereviews101@yahoo.co.ukby 16th April 2017.

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Twins

This had to be one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in Opinion Battles, I was looking through lists of comedy films…

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