Archive for 1976

Car Wash

Posted in Comedy with tags on May 21, 2013 by Mark Hobin

Car Wash movie photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgCar Wash belongs in a time capsule. It perfectly captures a moment for posterity never to be repeated again. Probably the lasting contribution from the 1976 comedy is the energetic title track, written and produced by Norman Whitfield. As performed by Rose Royce it‘s a spirited ode to (what else?) the joys of working in a car wash. It was an across the board smash going all the way to #1. But the entire soundtrack is a funky discofied slice of heaven that perfectly complements the action on screen. The movie wasn’t particularly successful initially but has since grown into a cult film with a devoted following. It’s sort of the spiritual progenitor of later flicks like House Party, Friday and Barbershop.

Who knew that working at a car wash could be so much fun? Directed by Michael Schultz (Cooley High, The Last Dragon) from a screenplay by Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, A Time to Kill), this one day in the life of an L.A. car wash is a buoyant episodic comedy. It’s hard to say who’s odder, the employees or the customers. The multi racial cast has a relaxed, friendly presence that really serves these lighthearted shenanigans well. Most of the actors are not widely known but a couple big names do pop up. Richard Pryor appears briefly as Daddy Rich, a colorful reverend of The Church of Divine Economic Spirituality. He’s supported by the Pointer Sisters, who break into a joyous song that almost has you wishing this was an actual musical. Comedian George Carlin has a running bit as a cabbie looking for the woman who stiffed him of his fare. The meandering storyline has no real focus, but it is a carefree diversion. This tone is decidedly upbeat. The writing is amusing and there are several hilarious lines sprinkled throughout. Many belong to actor Antonio Fargas as flamboyant Lindy who delivers his every line with a lot of sass. Want an example? When put down by militant black nationalist Duane, er uh excuse me, Abdullah Mohamed Akbar, he shoots back with one of the most memorable lines in the film: “Honey, I’m more man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever get.”

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Carrie

Posted in Drama, Horror with tags on November 6, 2012 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPoor Carrie White! She’s a sad, withdrawn high school teen. An outcast, she has no friends. Even the girl‘s religiously fanatical mother is abusive toward her, constantly scolding her for her “sins.” But Carrie is a special 16 year old girl. One day after a particularly traumatic event in the girl’s locker room, she becomes aware of telekinetic abilities. The ability seems to have been brought on by her maturing into womanhood. These recurring episodes will become more intense as the drama develops.

Carrie is highlighted by several memorable performances. Sissy Spacek is quite impressive as the shy, introverted teen. So much so that the narrative actually plays better as a coming-of-age story over the horror movie it is most often labeled as. She gives Carrie a genuine yearning for acceptance that is at times heartbreaking. Piper Laure is her overtly religious mother. It’s an incredibly over the top spectacle that seizes attention. It verges on camp. Viewed as a characterization of a Christian fundamentalist, she is ridiculously excessive. However taken as a portrait of a woman with severe mental problems, it’s more believable. She, like Sissy Spacek, was recognized with an Academy Award nomination. Not nominated but noteworthy is Betty Buckley as Miss Collins, the girl’s gym teacher. Displaying an understated approach, she provides much needed sympathy to Carrie’s suffering. Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Nancy Allen and P.J. Soles are all rather compelling in early film roles as her peers.

Carrie is a classic that makes any legitimate list of the best horror films ever made. It’s a regular staple of Halloween viewing. While there are definitely sinister elements, what surprises is how introspective our tale really is. As a chronicle of a girl’s maturation, it’s surprisingly effective thanks to Sissy Spacek’s moving depiction of the bullied teen. Director Brian De Palma dresses up a seemingly simple account with cinematic style. Pino Donaggio’s symphonic score is atmospheric and highly evocative. A frequent collaborator, the Italian composer is to Brian De Palma what Bernard Herrmann is to Alfred Hitchcock, even recalling that American legend in his work. Deep focus and split screen are used to strengthen the visual impact. Twice, slow motion is employed to draw a scene out. The gimmick might annoy some, but I found it to be remarkably potent in highlighting tension, especially in the horrific climax. I’ll admit the “everything goes BOOM” is a horror cliché, but it still is endlessly entertaining.

Logan’s Run

Posted in Adventure, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction with tags on July 27, 2009 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketDystopian society in which all citizens must die at the age of 30 unless rewarded with continued life in a confusing ritual known as Carousel. Michael York is Logan 5, a Sandman entrusted with tracking down and killing people who try to flee from participating. Illogical film (Logan’s true motives are unclear throughout most of the film) is redeemed by unintentionally hilarious futuristic 70s-style set design and costumes. Sci-fi action film has spectacular start but ends up a dreary bore. Nevertheless, co-star Jenny Agutter is captivating and a pre-Charlie’s Angels Farrah Fawcett is beautifully vacuous in a minor role.