Tag Archives: 1988 Movie reviews

Working Girl-1988

Working Girl-1988

Director-Mike Nichols

Starring-Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver

Scott’s Review #748

Reviewed April 26, 2018

Grade: B+

Released during a decade known for excess, fun and light comedy films, especially during the latter half, 1988’s Working Girl was a blockbuster hit at the time, and in modern times is perfectly nestled as an identifier of the decade itself- this can be both good and bad with both a dated feel and also a whimsical, basic good girl versus bad approach that is appealing.

The film is romantic comedy fluff, but is entertaining and features lovely views of New York City- one of my very favorite locales. The film is directed by Mike Nichols, known more for heavier subject matter (1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and 1967’s The Graduate). His leading of the picture as well as all-star casting surely made this film better than it ought to have been.

Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) commutes via the Staten Island Ferry each morning into vast Manhattan where she holds a secretarial job at a Wall Street investment bank.  When she has a bad experience with one of the brokers, she is reassigned to a female boss, the assertive Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). After Katharine steals Tess’s business idea and passes it off as her own to get in good with handsome Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), Tess is determined to reveal the truth as a triangle of sorts develops between the three individuals. In tow is Tess’s best friend Cynthia (Joan Cusack) and her cheating boyfriend, Mick (Alec Baldwin) in supporting roles.

Working Girl feels overwhelmingly like a “1980’s film” and while relevant at the time and kindly nostalgic, the film does not hold up well in modern times, rather seeming to be suited for a time capsule, unlocked from time to time for kicks. The most garish example are the hideous hairdo’s (or more appropriately hair dont’s) that Nichols has Tess and Cynthia don- frizzed out and caked with aqua net hairspray is over-the-top even for the 1980’s. Then there are the inevitable tacky outfits complete with bright colors and shoulder pads as the girl hustle to their dull jobs. With these costume tidbits in addition to the filming style the tone just screams 1980’s.

The casting of the three leads is very good- Griffith, Ford, and Weaver all share nice chemistry with one another and the clear rooting value is for Tess and Jack to live happily ever after- with Katharine as the obvious foil. In this way the conclusion of the film is of little surprise, but as a romantic comedy this is standard fare. The point is that the relationships are dynamic and the ride is fun. Griffith is quite breathy and seductive in her role- a clear homage to the talents of Marilyn Monroe in her 1950’s era films. Never known for great acting, Tess is the role of a lifetime for Griffith. Weaver sinks her teeth into an against type villainous role and Ford is dashing and charismatic as the leading man.

My favorite parts of Working Girl, and the strongest aspects of the film, leaving an indelible impression even after all of these years, are the sweeping camera sequences of New York City featured throughout the film. Lots of scenes were shot in neighboring Staten Island, but the best shots of all are the luminous skylines of Manhattan that encompass the opening sequence and later, viewpoints from the corporate offices. There we see Tess on the Ferry heading across the Hudson River all with the wonderful soundtrack song by Carly Simon, Let the River Run, playing in the background. The soothing tune and the approaching mammoth city set a nice tone.

The story itself is a sort of rags to riches, Cinderella style experience from the point of view of Tess. Taking night classes to better herself and clearly a blue collar type battling the giants of the corporate world and the more sophisticated Katherine (she speaks fluent French!) is an enormous draw of the film to sustain mainstream audiences. In fact, corporate greed versus the little guy is an adept comparison here. Almost borderline fairy tale, the fact that Tess gets the dashing Jack (in real life he would undoubtedly be with Katharine) makes the film good, escapist fare. The working class Staten Island versus the sophisticated Manhattan is another theme worth mentioning.

Thirty years beyond its original release. 1988’s Working Girl now seems dated, dusty, and of its time like many similar style films, but does still contain some of the enjoyment undoubtedly beholden to it at the time of release. A film that is fine to take out of the vault, dust off, and enjoy for some good escapist cinema and a predictable story of good overcoming bad.

Friday the 13th: Part VII: The New Blood-1988

Friday the 13th: Part VII: The New Blood-1988

Director-John Carl Buechler

Starring-Lar Park Lincoln, Terry Kiser

Scott’s Review #551

Reviewed December 19, 2016

Grade: B-

The seventh installment of the legendary Friday the 13th franchise is enjoyable, yet clearly predictable. However, props must be awarded to the creators for at least making an attempt  at a novel idea- this time the “final girl” is not the damsel in distress type, but rather, gives as good as she gets. Friday the 13th: Part VII: The New Blood is a decent offering in the horror genre and certainly better than some of its companion films.

The main heroine is a telekinetic girl named  Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln). Via flashbacks, we learn that Tina’s father was an alcoholic and abused her mother. When Tina’s telekinesis was unlocked ten years earlier, Tina caused her father’s drowning death, conveniently at Camp Crystal Lake. Tina has harbored deep regret ever since and is now treated by Doctor Crews (Terry Kiser). The duo- along with her mother- decide to stay at the lake where a group of partying kids take up residence next door. Apparently none of them have any idea who Jason Voorhees is.

The beginning and end are ridiculous even by horror standards as the action is way over the top and too convoluted to go into, but everything else is fine. The cast seems a bit larger than in other chapters, which is great because that means more kills. Unfortunately, many of the kills have been edited to make an R rating. (I try to watch NR horror films- no edits). My favorite kill by far is the “sleeping bag” kill. Awesome!! Unfortunately, the DVD version of this kill is severely edited from the theatrical version.

Also, Jason looks like a true monster in this one and that is to be applauded. Stuntman Kane Hodder would begin a successful stint at the killer and he looks the part. Friday the 13th: Part VII: The New Blood is a fun popcorn horror flick.

Beaches-1988

Beaches-1988

Director-Garry Marshall

Starring-Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey

Top 100 Films-#93

Scott’s Review #352

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Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Beaches is a film that can easily be described as sentimental, sappy, and a chick flick- all in derogatory fashion- but that regardless, is a treasure to me and I fall for this tearjerker every single time that I watch it. It is not necessarily a great film, not high art, nor particularly edgy, but a good, old fashioned, conventional film about friendship. Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey give the film believability where other similar films would appear contrived.

C.C. Bloom (Midler) and Hillary Whitney (Hershey) are lifelong friends from completely opposite backgrounds. In addition, they could not have more opposite personalities. C.C. blue collar, outrageous and brash, Hillary, demure, rich, and sophisticated. We meet the friends as young girls on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, C.C. hiding from her overbearing stage Mom, and Hillary, lost and wandering the boardwalk. The two become fast friends despite their vastly different upbringings and stay connected through ups and downs and life’s trials and tribulations, for over thirty years.

The chemistry between Midler and Hershey is great. I completely buy them as best friends through the years, despite having little in common. Throughout their tender, emotional scenes, and the knock-down-drag-out fight they have at the mall (a fantastic scene!), there is never a doubt at what they have. They compete over a man, which ordinarily is a lame plot device, but in Beaches it works because the two stars make it work.

Each actress puts her own mark on the individual role. Midler’s C.C is arrogant, feisty, and is interesting as she begins a “have not” and becomes a “have”. She becomes spoiled and pampered- all of the things she envied about Hillary. She does not handle wealth as well as Hillary because she lacks the education. Hillary, an attorney, is classy and graceful. These characteristics is why it is believable that the women would be at odds.

The last act is a weepy one as one of the women dies, leaving the other to pick up the pieces and move on- alone. This is a sad moment in the film, but the women’s devotion and loyalty are admirable. Beaches may not be high art, but boy will it get you reaching for the hankies.

Hairspray-1988

Hairspray-1988

Director-John Waters

Starring-Ricki Lake, Divine

Scott’s Review #130

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Reviewed July 23, 2014

Grade: B+

Hairspray (1988) is one of Director John Water’s later and much more mainstream comedies. Influencing the Broadway musical of the same name that was created years later and inspiring a successful remake in 2007, the film is a wonderful watch one late night accompanied by spirits- it is fun, fun, fun.

The film tells the story of a cute, yet insecure, overweight teenager named Tracy Turnblad, wonderfully portrayed by Rikki Lake. Tracy lives in Baltimore in the racially conflicted 1960’s, and she battles to appear on a local talent show. With Waters directing, one might expect comedic raunchiness, but Hairspray is quite tame. In fact, it is the only Waters film to be rated PG, the others rated X. Not to be outdone however, Hairspray does contain its share of light naughtiness.

The film itself, while campy and over the top, is an important film as it does its best to break down racial barriers, including interracial relationships, and sends an important message. Tracy and her best friend Penny Pingleton judge people for who they are, not on race, income, or anything else.

Those characters in Hairspray who are written as racist or less than welcoming to interracial cohabitation (again the film is set in the early 1960’s) clearly look like buffoons and not with the progressive social times. The supporting cast is high caliber- Divine and Jerry Stiller are perfectly cast as Tracy’s open minded yet cautious and concerned parents. Famous musicians appear in cameos- most notable are Debbie Harry, Ric Ocasek, and Sonny Bono in small but zesty roles.

The musical dance numbers are plentiful and perfectly fit the time period of the film. Hairspray is an entertaining, relevant, free for all with a powerful message mixed in with the entertainment.

The Lair of the White Worm-1988

The Lair of the White Worm-1988

Director-Ken Russell

Starring-Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant

Scott’s Review #15

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: C+

This is a very strange film. Set in Scotland, it tells the tale of a giant snake skeleton found in the ground that leads to a series of strange events.

A wealthy Lady, brilliantly played by Amanda Donohue, begins a sinister plot to sacrifice the townspeople. The film is campy and way over the top, though Donohue is delicious and seems to have fun with the role of a slithering, sexy, bisexual creature. The gloomy ambiance is fantastic, mixed in with many psychedelic sequences that entertained.

It’s a somewhat fun, late night B-movie, to be sure, but the plot did not seem to make much sense to me, especially in the final act. It is a trippy experience.