These past three days I have been sick with the flu, ratcheting temperatures over 100 degrees, and coughing uncontrollably like Edward "Longshanks" from Braveheart. The good news is I've had time to catch up on some movies, namely: Ransom, An Officer and a Gentleman, Maid in Manhattan, The Comancheros, and My Bodyguard.
Just a few thoughts:
Ransom: Perhaps because I am now married and may one day be a father (not any time soon mind you), the plot of child abduction and psychological torture was more disturbing to me than the first time I saw this movie. Who knew director Ron Howard could be so dark? The film's tension, however, stems not from the actual kidnapping, but from the dilemma of what to do. Dad (Mel Gibson) is convinced paying the kidnappers won't save his son while Mom (Rene Russo) believes in the exact opposite. The outcome is nothing you would expect.
An Officer and a Gentleman: Where are the tough guys like Drill Sergeant Foley these days? Perhaps a better question is Where is Oscar-winner Lou Gossett Jr. these days? Or Debra Winger for that matter? Or David Keith?
Maid in Manhattan: I must have been delirious when I decided to watch this cute love story starring J. Lo and Ralph Fiennes. But I will say this: It isn't often that Hollywood decides to portray a New York rising politician (Fiennes) in the handsome and dashing mold of JFK Jr. as a Republican. And having been accustomed to so much GOP-bashing on film these days, I expected him to switch parties at the last minute. He doesn't. He gets the girl and becomes the next Republican senator from New York. That said, any maid who tries on a guest's clothes deserves to be fired.
The Comancheros: I must be getting really bored because I'm watching Westerns, which I rarely do. Yet this one, starring John Wayne and Stuart Whitman, isn't half-bad. And Jack Elam plays a Comanchero called Horseface. (Remember Elam as the alcoholic doctor in Cannonball Run?)
My Bodyguard: No, this is not a movie starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. This is a 1980 classic about a rich kid (Chris Makepeace) who transfers to a gritty Chicago public school, is harassed by a young ruffian (Matt Dillon) and his crew of extortionists, and seeks the employ of a large and angry-looking loner (Adam Baldwin) to serve as his bodyguard. (I wonder how much of this film, directed by Tony Bill, influenced the likes of John Hughes.) Performances across the board, as Variety would put it, are stellar, including Martin Mull as the single parent, the wonderful Ruth Gordon as the slightly senile grandmother, and a braces-wearing Joan Cusack in her film debut. The score is mostly classical and, at least for me, nostalgic. If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it.
Time to take my temperature.
1 hour ago