This is the most Anime thing I’ve ever heard
Is this on your list yet?
Because it seems like it really should be.
Goldblum and Cyndi fucking Lauper whaaaaaaaaaaaaa
I’ve never seen this movie, but I had a really unsettling fever dream about it when I was sick as a kid. I think it was just about Goldblum and a woman playing around with a curtain.
oh, god. it was not but it is now!!
in the meantime I have been straying off outside the pale.
High School Musical (2006): this was recommended to me as a romantic comedy, and it’s not - the leads meet about two minutes into the film, are immediately and openly into one another, and continue in that vein throughout apart from a single 8-minute breakup segment in the middle - but at the same time i sort of get why somebody would think so, as it feels like it takes place inside the same universe as other 1999-2007 romcoms or especially the tv movie kind. which i guess to me means, a very bright and almost cartoony look, commitment to inoffensive humour and very broad character beats accompanied with musical cues rather than real jokes, lots of strange mid-2000s fashions that look like they were combined at random from wardrobe items in second life (i think there was one girl in this wearing a combination sweater vest, dress shirt, shirley temple-esque ribbon and camo cargo pants??), focus on sort of interchangeably cute leads rather than distinctive looking weirdos. i don’t know enough about the histories of these things to say exactly how much of this is specifically driven by a focus on producing movies for network tv, or the dread influence of the disney tv-to-tvmovie-star pipeline. but it’s interesting to have a movie set in that universe where the romance is dialled down.
also, it’s a musical, and about a musical - but the film ends with the final casting call, and the latter musical never actually appears! should have called this high school audition!! the songs range from good and catchy to that kind of weird, dirgelike rnb ballad vocalisation that i guess american idol and suchlike helped cement as the official aesthetic of authenticity and personal expression.but it has the interesting side effect where personal authenticity means a generic, interchangeable style, while conforming (in the form of big, crowd-based musical numbers about the wisdom of crowds) lead to much more idiosyncratic and memorable songs. kudos to disney corp for this bold critique of bourgeois interiority. or is it just that the villains generally get better songs in their movies in general?
it does that thing i really love where an in-universe screen display renders at exactly the same fidelity and style as the surrounding movie, a la ‘decker’. this happens as part of a plot by the science nerds and the sports nerds to stop their respective stars from dating. i feel like if it was just one or the other clique it’d be more expected, but having every different social group in the school conspire to make people keep doing “one thing” (so that a basketball player can’t bake, and a stoner can’t play cello (?)) feels more like an unreal, paranoid escalation of this idea, like it’s the dystopian society somebody would reverse-engineer from watching john hughes movies with no human context. so i enjoyed it for that reason.
there are two different instances of full musical numbers by the evil drama club teens, where it’s kind of implied to be gruesome and phony because of how overproduced and cutesy it is, but at the same time, it’s a full musical number that we’re watching and presumably is also on the soundtrack cd, etc. i think in the likes of dance movies, or kung fu movies, it’s a lot easier to enjoy this kind of showcase from the ‘bad’ characters and to take it as a kind of oh-shit, stepping-up-the-stakes moment, a sign for the main characters to work harder. but it’s always seemed to me to be a strange fit with the kind of musicals where the value of a performance is implied to be that it’s authentic, unforced, and wholly self-derived. is the idea that exaggerated stageyness is worse by contrast? isn’t pleasure in this stageyness why we watch musicals? are we meant to be disliking the morris day and the times songs in purple rain, or what?
at the end the teenagers make it to the big audition by remotely hacking the scoreboard during a big game and derailing the scholastic decathalon with a chemical smoke bomb. zac efron flown to extralegal black site for detainment.
so this is when they switched him for the efronbot
I remember this movie being popular amongst people exactly 3 years younger than me. It was also the first nostalgia reference that made me feel not just old, but ancient, because I was already too old for it when it first came out.
The American President (1995) - by my count I’ve watched two movies about the american president’s daughter falling in love, and one movie about the british prime minister falling in love with somebody who is at one point assaulted by the american president. but what about a romantic comedy starring the american president himself? and what if he were dating a lobbyist? yes, this is an aaron sorkin movie.
or actually, weirdly, a rob reiner movie, but sorkin wrote it and it has all the same tics as the west wing despite coming out first: people walking quickly down a corridor to no definite direction while snapping commands, complex policy speak that all gets resolved as moral issues, people tossing white house trivia factoids back and forth. stirring orchestral music over pictures of flags and eagles (and former presidents like andrew jackson and taft). it has martin sheen in it!! smothered in rogaine so that he looks like the chief fixer instead of the prez himself but it’s still an eerie and disorienting effect and i spent the whole movie waiting for him to seize the throne. the president in this one is played by micheal douglas to unfortunately inescapable cokeheadish effect although he does look sort of like jon stewart avant la lettre in some parts. richard dreyfuss is in it as a cheneyoid republican villain. michael j fox is in it as a young turk and kept bringing to mind the joke from In The Loop where they go to washington during the bush years and keep talking to highplaced policy figures who appear to be fifteen years old.
so it’s very like the west wing except that it’s, uh, much, much hornier than i remember that show being, to the extent that the only way i can describe it is as a liberal daddy fantasy. annette bening (the reporter from mars attacks) is talked up as a hardboiled political expert but played as a perpetually flustered and gauche newcomer to washingtonland, who keeps making gaffes around someone she will only refer to as “mister president” (she describes herself at one point as acting “like a college freshman at a protest rally” - how gauche!), as he graciously overlooks her errors of protocol and is down to earth, alternatingly folksy and steely, making wise declarations in his shirtsleeves, etc. i don’t know how to say it but you really do begin to suspect, around the fifth time she makes an awkward fumblingly deferential speech about not knowing how to address mister president while he twinkles knowingly at her, that someone just had an extremely specific fetish that they needed to get out there. which i’d normally support but it’s harder in situation where “ever been to camp david?” is a sample pickup line.
i mentioned that she was a lobbyist and in fact she works for the powerful political agency GDC (“he who does not respect GDC does so at his peril” - one of the characters).
other political shit: at one point a new set of armaments the president is giving to israel gets blown up by libya, and in return he orders an air strike on libyan intelligence, “at the least populated time”, which as the military advisors point out is at night when only the janitorial staff are in there. he blows them all up but then broods manfully about it. sometimes you just want a sensitive leader who will kill some janitors and then be agitated about it for about two minutes after it! fucking CLERKS had a more involved treatment of the same issue.
most of the movie is what i think of as civility wrestling where characters compete in a ritualistic way to see who can be more respectful and deferential to american power. and it counterpoints this with the aggressive, norm-disrespecting republicans. but it also does the same thing as the west wing where the emotional appeal actually rests in those points where the characters set wonkishness and discussion aside to act more aggressively and unilaterally themselves. i remember reading once about a japanese wrestler from the 50s whose thing was that he was extremely conscientous and rule-abibiding, in the face of flagrantly cheating and despicable opponents. and this would go on and he’d get ever more beaten down until, in reaction to some especially heinous bit of rule breaking, he too would start to fight dirty and would brutally dismantle his opponents, combining catharsis with moral rectitude. it’s a similar thing. in this case we actually don’t get to see the results of his eventual bold stand after a movie’s worth of dithering, although i’m not sure it’s great. (from wikipedia: "In the 2016 Presidential election candidate Ted Cruz paraphrased a portion of The American President when fellow candidate Donald Trump insulted Cruz’s wife. Cruz stated, “…and if Donald wants to get into a character fight, he’s better off sticking with me because Heidi is way out of his league,” referencing the speech [Michael Douglas] made about the attacks on [Annette Bening].” hopefully it didn’t turn out to be as ineffective in this one.)
minor stuff: this movie came out in 1995 but at one point she wears a very Episode 1 ish outfit.
Anyway I hope this was as brutal to read as this movie was brutal to watch. I don’t know if it’s real or not but i DO love the painting of sad JFK that we see in one procession scene, though.
Finally, some trivia from IMDB:
“Prior to Aaron Sorkin joining the project, early versions of the script depicted President Andrew Shepherd as a military veteran and former Special Ops Agent. Rob Reiner discussed the lead role with Bruce Willis and Steven Seagal before Sorkin’s re-writes transitioned Shepherd to a more academic character.”
what the fuck! i want to have watched either of those movies instead. alas the true bipartisan team-up of aaron sorkin and steven seagal must wait until another day.
i love that this is your reference for annette bening and not, like, American Beauty, but she actually plays President Jack Nicholson’s wife in mars attacks, not the reporter—you’re thinking of Sarah Jessica Parker (or Michael J Fox who also plays a reporter).
I looked it up and the president’s wife in mars attacks is glenn close! but yes actually annette bening was the new age hippy lady, who released the dove and was married to, uh, the crazed vegas guy I think… but not danny devito as a different crazed vegas guy… but she is a different character to sarah jessica parker who I forgot was also in this movie…….
looking up mars attacks on google image search is apparently to realize I forgot 99% of what happened in it apart from the one guy who was murdered by the robot hand
The only thing I remember about this movie is after Congress gets incinerated President Jack Nicholson issues a statement and says “I just wanna remind the American people that we still have two functioning branches of government, and two outta three ain’t bad!”
oops yep that’s right. she was the wife of Jack Nicholson’s crazy Vegas guy (not the wife of Jack Nicholson’s President)
is that right though? christ I don’t know, that is one convoluted cast
edit yeah it’s right
High School Musical 2 (2007) - Undoubtable highlight of this movie is the poster in the boss’s office which reads An Onion For Papa.
This one is more of a romantic comedy proper and also weirdly similar at points to the plot from the first half of Sorry To Bother You (or at least The Big Boss). The teens from the first movie all get summer jobs in the kitchen of a luxurious country club, but Zac Efron is promoted upstairs by rich and sinister yuppies, various forms of corruption by the material world occur (wearing fancy shoes, sending hamburgers back to the kitchen for having the wrong cheese) until he regains his senses in a cathartic golfcourse dance number and decides to fight on behalf of the staff…'s right to hold their own musical. Also, the rich drama club kids do yet another weirdly racist “tropical” styled song but I’m not sure if that’s a conscious running joke or not. Will have to watch the third one to find out.
Vibes (1988) - what a weird movie, like an attempt at combining Ghostbusters and Romancing The Stone that had to be assembled entirely from the b-roll of a completely different film. I kept thinking “this is like a tv movie”, which is untrue, it’s more that it’s a movie which reminded me of zoning out in front of the tv. Catching disconnected pieces of the same show, or of different shows, all mixed in without your realizing.
So this is the Jeff Goldblum / Cyndi Lauper “psychic comedy” posted earlier to the thread by AutomaticTiger and it starts exactly as you’d expect a movie with this cast to start: with two burly men murdering a sherpa in a snowy ruin, before uncovering a mystic, glowing energy pyramid which proceeds to electrocute them both. CUT TO the new york school for psychic research.
In this world, psychics appear to be kind of a known quantity that nobody really doubts or questions. For instance we see someone effortly win at a game of street three card monte and the dealer yells “i bet you’re one of those damn psychics!” (worldbuilding). But he set up his game right outside a building with “school for psychic research” written outside the door! What did he expect would happen?
The movie turns into a kind of mild comedy about neurotic or humorously incapable New Yorkers for a bit, doing general New York things like trying to fuck Steve Buscemi or almost being hit by a car. We learn Jeff Goldblum can psychically tell where an object’s been by reading its vibes, and that Cyndi Lauper has a spirit guide which appears to mostly be used for communing with the dead although this doesn’t come up as often as you’d think. But then Peter Falk (!) appears as a sort of Mel Brooksian huckster figure and convinces them both to go to Ecuador with him to hunt down a fabulous treasure.
From there we get lots of Ecuador scenary, and pan pipes, and the movie takes a weird spy tone with lots of sneaking around a hotel, seducing ambassadors and deflecting assassins. Jeff Goldblum murders a woman by throwing her out a window. One of the psychics from New York re-appears, but now appears to be a non-psychic(?) hitman proficient in silenced weapons and throwing knives (I enjoyed that they leaned into the versatility of this character by also, late in the movie, giving him the unexplained ability to translate ancient runes).
They go to the mountains, there’s lots of trekking, more pan pipes, Peter Falk is killed by a throwing knife and gets a surprisingly drawn-out, emotional death sequence. They’re captured by strangely unfunny terrorists who appear to have emerged from like Cliffhanger or something and there’s a lot of running around pointing assault rifles at each other in an ancient temple. The killers turn out to be trying to harness the power of the magic glowing pyramid (shades of “the Orb” from Brisco County Jr?) but then Cyndi Lauper grabs it and starts speaking in tongues as she’s possessed by psychic energy. The temple collapses, killing the terrorists, but our heroes are saved by the brave sacrifice of Cyndi Lauper’s spirit guide. They head back into town to resolve their feelings for each other, and then in the final scene of the film she gets a NEW spirit guide - the disembodied voice of Peter Falk!!!
As you may have picked up, there was a romance subplot between the two main characters but I found it hard to pay attention to for some inexplicable reason. The credits appear and a Cyndi Lauper song, with pan pipes, starts to play.
Goldblum and Lauper have remarkably terrible chemistry.
Except when they’re dancing.
what a cast
Speaking of I forgot to mention that apparently Van Dyke Parks is in it for a split second as “Dr Weiner” and his IMDB page is sort of an inscrutable journey in itself:
1990 was a great year for ol VDP