Winona Ryder

Heathers

Year: 1988
Directed By: Michael Lehmann
Written By: Daniel Waters

RYAN’S REVIEW

I grabbed this movie off the shelf during a post-Christmas shopping day at the store. It was reasonably priced and I felt it was a movie that belonged in the collection. I am a fan of dark comedies and this is a classic dark comedy.  This one was original when it came out; twenty four years later it seems like a story that has been played out in a variety of ways. The most immediate example that comes to mind is Tina Fey‘s Mean GirlsI remember it being a popular movie when it came out but all I saw was a cheap knock off of this movie with Lindsay Lohan in it. There are other examples that out there as well but most of those movies are ones I never took the time to watch.  This movie is original and dark in all the ways none of the others ever had the balls to pull off, and ways that simply wouldn’t be accepted today.

This is a movie that plays to the extremes but that is what makes it memorable. It takes a world we all went through at one point or another and gets crazy with it. It says something about our society within the madness too.  It goes to the extremes but it says something about conformity and about bullying.  Veronica Sawyer is an interesting character because she seems to be different yet she is still part of the “Heathers.”  She too is a conformer and bully as she goes along with the mean things they do, but she changes everything all the same. J.D. was just the man to come along and enlighten her but he is much darker than Veronica realizes until it is too late. He seems like the wild and free spirited rebel at first but the farther things go the more we see that he is simply crazy and out of control. I think his role reversal conversations with his father are really interesting and are probably a major contributing factor to his persona.

This movie came out in the era of Winona Ryder and I hate that things went downhill for her over time. I have always been a fan of hers and really wished she could have offered us more over the last decade.  All her greatest roles seem to be played with such an effortless quality that maybe she was simply a pretty face.  The effortless performances that come to mind are Beetlejuice and Edward ScissorhandsI never saw her Oscar winning performance in Girl, Interrupted but it should have opened up so many opportunities for her and simply didn’t. I think she is a gorgeous actress though and miss what she brought to the films she was in.  I don’t mind Christian Slater but I wouldn’t say I was ever really a fan.  He has always seemed to be trying to emulate Jack Nicholson and I’m not really a big fan of Jack either.  I like Slater in this role though.  As JD he fits the part well, interesting enough to catch the eye of a popular girl and unhinged just enough to still manipulate her into what he wants before going off the deep end.

This movie would never fly today because there is simply no place in our society for a movie this dark.  A dark comedy today about school massacres and teen suicide just wouldn’t work.  We have all lived through too many tragedies at this point to tolerate something like this.  That’s part of what I like about this movie though because it gives us a window into a different time.  A time when all of this was acceptable.  This movie came out when this kind of behavior wasn’t so rampant it was practically forbidden to film.  Also a time when actors were still allowed to casually smoke on screen and it not be an issue.  I like that about this movie and what it tells us about how things have changed.

This movie is a classic and all classics are worth your time to see. This is a dark comedy and as I have said before these movies aren’t for everyone.  If you usually enjoy them then you should definitely take some time to see this one because you probably won’t see any other like it. No remakes for this one are ever going to be brought up during a discussion among execs at a movie studio.

Edward Scissorhands

Year: 1990
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is such an awesome movie.  When it came out it was a new and interesting fairy tale made in true Tim Burton fashion.  Like many other Burton movies this one is exceptional because there really is no other like it.  This movie is interesting, imaginative, and incredible. With this strange fantasy story Tim Burton manages to give us an insight into how he sees the world and tell us something about ourselves all in one stroke.  This film is about finding out who you are, it’s about love and fear; it’s part Beauty and the Beast, part Frankenstein, and all Tim Burton.

Tim Burton really is one of a kind.  He has such a vision when it comes to blending colors on screen and he has a style that is all his own.  I have never cared much for what I think of as “the creepy Tim Burton crap” but it is part of who he is and it is original.  His originality is what makes him such a great filmmaker and this is one of the best showcases for his talent.  My favorite of his films has got to be Beetle Juicebut this is a really really close second. Johnny Depp is great as the title character and if I’m not mistaken he has referred to this as one of his favorite roles.  He portrays such an innocent being that is victimized by the world and ultimately misunderstood. Winona Ryder is young and beautiful.  Dianne Wiest is honest and good spirited.  However, after Johnny Depp I think the best performance has to go to Alan Arkin.  He plays the father of the Boggs so deftly and naturally that it makes you believe this is a real family and a real story.  I have read that the death of Jim at the end of the film was Tim Burton’s revenge on the jocks who picked on him in high school but I think that revenge came in casting Anthony Michael Hall as the jock instead.  Hall had played dorks and nerds for a long time but was trying to change his image with this role. Who was he kidding though, right?  He did a horrible job and his career continued on a downward spiral because of it.  This was the last film that Vincent Price appeared in and that is another thing that makes it special.  It is sad that the last thing he did on screen was dying though.

Edward is a creature of isolation, in this film we see him adapt and attempt to live a normal life.  Edward does not understand what he is dealing with in society though and he is vulnerable because of his ignorance. The world is cruel, and it isn’t long before the world is trying to exploit Edward in a variety of ways.  When he doesn’t understand what is going on he responds in ways that society doesn’t understand. He isn’t a person, he is the unfinished product of the inventor and it isn’t his fault that he doesn’t understand the world.  He tries to do what he thinks is right but is unequipped and unaware of how to deal with the manipulation and the cruelty of others.  Everywhere he goes people continually fill him with hope by telling him that they know a doctor who can help him but the only people who do help him are the Boggs, and ultimately they fail to understand him as well.  The only one who really knew him was the one he fell for, and she couldn’t help him either. What makes Edward such a great character is that he is so diverse and innocent.  He is someone we can all learn from because in his story we can see aspects of ourselves and our nature.

I have written before about Danny Elfman as a composer, we have reviewed several movies now that he scored. I do like Danny Elfman but in this journey through our movies I have found myself losing respect for him.  He has such a specific sound that I don’t even have to see the credits to know he was involved in a movie now.  While I think he has put together some great musical scores for films I am noticing more and more that all his scores sound the same.  Tim Burton uses him frequently and I think they work really well together.  Elfman’s gloomy sound is perfect for Tim Burton’s purposes.  If you want to know what I am talking about though see Beetle Juice, Darkman, Batman, or Batman Returns

This is a wonderful movie that many love.  It isn’t one you need me to tell you to see but I am always happy to recommend it during a rare time that I find someone who hasn’t seen it.  Great cast, great story, and a great filmmaker at his best.  This movie will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you feel on a deeper level.  It is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love, love this movie. This was the first film of it’s kind that I had ever seen. I didn’t even know that movies like this existed or could exist. It is a beautifully made movie, with and incredible plot. I love the housing units, the costumes, the hairdos. Everything was thought about and thought about until it was perfect.

I thoroughly enjoy this movie and could watch it over and over. If you haven’t seen it, it is more than worth it to watch it.

NEXT MOVIE: Enemy of the State (1998)

Beetlejuice

Year: 1988
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Michael McDowell & Larry Wilson

RYAN’S REVIEW

I love this movie, it is one of my favorites of all time.  It’s such an imaginative story and the movie is so well made.  Tim Burton had a great cast to work with and Danny Elfman added the magical touch with a great musical score. The afterlife is life’s ultimate mystery, this movie offers a unique view of what comes after death. This is one of those movies that is really one of a kind, you won’t find any others like this.  That was what made Tim Burton great, that he could make something so different and interesting.

This movie was made when Tim Burton was red-hot, coming out right before Batman in 1989.  This is one of those movies where everyone was really great.  Winona Ryder was great as the young gothic Lydia.  Michael Keaton was fantastic as the title character, he has said before that this was his favorite character of all that he played.  Catherine O’Hara is perfect as the snobbish and über stylish Delia.  Jeffery Jones, I always liked him as an actor, his fall from grace has been disappointing and unforgivable.   Alec Baldwin was so young in this movie that he is nearly unrecognizable. I am a Geena Davis fan and like many of her movies but I have never thought she was especially good in this one.  Anybody could have played her part.  Danny Elfman delivers big time for Burton with his score on this film, he is a great composer.  The rest of the soundtrack is great too and the “Day-O” dance scene is classic.

I remember watching the Beetlejuice cartoons as a kid which were inspired by the film and also produced by Tim Burton.  Maybe it’s that show that endeared the character to me so much but I have always loved the character and this film.  If you have never seen Beetlejuice then you should give it a shot.  It comes on ABC Family on a regular basis.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t mind having it playing in the background and I don’t mind watching it a million times. There is something so intriguing for me when there is a movie about the after life, whether it is serious or not. I am a huge fan of the idea that you still live among the living to either haunt them or whatever. Michael Keaton does a great job as Beetlejuice in this movie. I think it shows his diversity. I also think his Batman voice was a lot better in this film than in the Batman movies.

I also have to point out Wynona Ryder here in this post. Isn’t she just so cute and innocent. Before all the wierdness and shoplifting. I really thought she was going someplace when I was younger, it is sad to see how that turned out.

What is your favorite scene in this movie? Mine is definitely by far the dinner scene when they are all forced to sing “Day O.” How awesome is that scene, for real…in fact here it is for your entertainment. If you haven’t seen the movie it should give you the motivation to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)