My Criticism of Critics: 90’s Cult Classics

A lesser known fact about me is that I love to watch movies, anything from absolute classics to things people have never heard about. A well known fact about me is that I procrastinate. By combining these two qualities, I choose to watch movies that are a bit trashy and use half my brain while watching. I start to watch a movie that I feel like doesn’t require effort then get massively involved. In the past few days I have seen my fair share of early 2000 bad bad teen movies. However, sprinkled in these I saw two cult classics which stood out.

The first being Empire records, which got called the Breakfast Club of the 90’s therefore after hearing that I couldn’t not watch it. The reviews of it were not as encouraging, it bombed in its initial release in 95 and had accumulated negative reviews. The one thing I learnt and will emphasise is to never trust critic reviews (after watching the disaster which is the Heathers and not being able to get past the first half of La La Land). Despite these flaws I sat ready to watch a mind numbing cheap knockoff of one of my favourite movies. The movie revolves around a bunch of teens working for minimum wage in a record store, they are wide range of different personalities colliding in this one spot. This job and the store is essentially a haven for them. The cast are very interesting, and you may notice a few familiar faces, the most recognisable being Renee Zellweger.

The first character we see is someone who clearly loves the store, this is Lucas who finds out that the store is being sold to a huge chain and tries to gain money to ensure this doesn’t happen. However, the way he attempts to save the store is by taking the stores earnings of $9000 that he was meant to the bank, instead he goes to Atlantic City and doubles his earnings (yay!) but then bets all of the $18000 and obviously loses it.

Suffice to say Joe, the store manager is pissed as he was going to use this money to be a partner in the new chain when it gets brought. Joe takes the news surprisingly well, and simply grounds Lucas to sit on the couch and think of a plan to get this money back. We meet more of the staff of empire records, one being AJ, a super cute aspiring artist who is infatuated with another store employee Corey (played by Steven Tyler’s daughter). Another employee and Corey’s best friend is Gina, her opposite being a loose girl with no aspirations. Another more minor but fun character is Mark, who we see occasionally rocking out.

One of my favourite character introductions was Deb, she comes in through the door and gives her two other female employees the finger as they greet her. I found her hostility unexpected considering how the rest of the group acts like family and it did make me chuckle. She walks into the bathroom and begins to cut her hair and while watching just thought after the first few cuts, “she can salvage this” or “her hair could look cute”. Then out comes the razor and her hair was completely shaved off. The other employees express concern in her state of mind.

Image result for empire records debra

The film spans in the course of a day and on this particular day they are preparing for the arrival of a washed up singer to attend the store who the teenagers are less than excited to see. Prior to Rex Manning’s entrance the store encounters and detains a shoplifter in a hilarious and ridiculous way.

Image result for empire records rex manning day

I will not go on to sum up the whole plot as I encourage you to watch it (or if it doesn’t seem like your cup of tea then elsewhere will summarise the film better than me). I went into the movie with neither sky high or low expectations, I simply wanted something reminiscent of Breakfast Club and wanted to be entertained. It definitely fulfilled Breakfast Club feels as there were some parallels in the certain characters, Deb being Allison. Corey being Molly Ringwald-ish and Lucas being vaguely like Bender. It was very funny and it could easily relate to your high school job, the time just before university. Some scenarios were out there and exaggerated but it adds to the quirkiness of Empire Records. I just want to reiterate that this is no Shawshank Redemption or Forrest Gump, with it’s random dance scenes and moments when you just say “oh come on” to the characters however I could easily re-watch it and it is an extremely fun movie. It may not be entirely realistic but some parts were unexpected and it certainly was enjoyable.

In it’s time it never did well, never found the audience or the footing much like underappreciated works such as Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life and Pushing Daisies. However decades later I am glad to say that it has finally found it’s fan base and developed a cult following. I feel like it was before it’s time, and teens throughout the years can watch it feeling an affinity toward the characters and the store, making it easy to relate to the range of characters. An added bonus to empire records is obviously the soundtrack, the songs are banging, except well the Rex Manning songs which are, of course, laughable.

The comparative movie, Dazed and Confused, also taking place in the space of a day and featuring an ensemble cast, most notable being Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey. Also the guy who plays Lucas in Empire Records plays some stoner guy and also in it is Renee Zellweger. I don’t know the names of any character because of how bland they were which made them all seem like minor characters. I will try to talk about the plot but can honestly say that there wasn’t a plot. A bunch of high school guys which includes Ben Affleck and Football Dude who are enjoying their last day of school, these events include getting high in the halls, parking lot and class, which apparently the teachers just allow. They leave their busy class schedules to go to a middle school and threaten the students there, as a part of “hazing”. One student is singled out as his sister asked them to take it easy on him which obviously means they will hurt him even more. They go back to school, smoke more weed and then are asked to sign a pledge to not take drugs while they’re on the football team. The rest of the team do it knowing it’s an empty promise, however Football Dude decides not to sign it because it means giving away his individuality(?) and beliefs because clearly his morals are so strong (drugs, cheating and beating kids shows very strong morals) that he can’t lie. Then they paddle the middle school boys and the girls are berated, by being called sluts and bitches, getting food thrown at them and then cleaned in a car wash. The biggest question mark is that it seems voluntary for the girls, as one girl is asked if she wants to join which she agrees to. While the boys are hazed for proximity. The boy they threaten earlier escapes from Ben Affleck’s sociopathic character however they later spank him after tracking down his baseball game.

Image result for dazed and confused hazing

(Me watching this movie)

The middle schooler is then invited by Football Dude to come to another character’s party. The parents decide to stay home after they see kegs being delivered so party cancelled. They loiter around, buy beer, knock peoples mail boxes down and then get high and drink. This includes the middle schooler, getting high and drinking for the first time. What is even more baffling is that the parents do not care that their kids drink or smoke marijuana in the house or come back at sunrise, not even if he is fifteen.

Dazed and Confused got positive reviews from critics in 1993 during it’s release and still to this day. I have no idea why, the plot is non existent, the characters bland and forgettable, despite the fact I watched it a few hours ago I can barely remember them. Empire records was panned by critics for its silliness and supposed “predictability” which are the traits that Dazed and Confused is loved for. They are making jerky characters with no inhibitions for the sake of them being like high schoolers who are more like burnouts, every character is pretty much the same and there is no character development, it is very see is what you get. None of the characters seem particularly familiar or likeable to me. There was no change from the start of the film to the end. it seemed very typical like every american sitcom ever but crammed into a space of an hour and a half. it even seemed like a bunch of dissaciated scenes on end. Everything spanning in a day seems too forced and the humour falls flat. I didn’t laugh once in this movie. However there must be a disclaimer, Dazed and Confused is said to reflect the American culture which I know from other movies but I am not american so maybe I can not relate to it as I never attended an American high school. However I have watched plenty of American movies and never found the culture an obstacle for me to relate or like a movie. Maybe if you are American you are the inclusive group who understand the charm but if not automatically you will not be able to understand it. Or perhaps it is even more niche and you have to have attended an American school in the 70’s to get it?

While Dazed and Confused was very lacklustre with zero charm and memorability (the songs were good, I guess), it met nothing but positive reviews. Everything that Dazed and Confused is praised for is what Empire Records is scrutinised for, where Empire Records was a fun watch. Both spanned a day but with more developed characters and day which marked some kind of importance in Empire Records whereas Dazed is much like it’s title with no redeemable traits.

 

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Love, Sex and Other Human Necessities

A question that has been irritating me for a while is:

Why do humans crave love?

Or just crave other humans, in general.

Essentially, the ideal mindset for a person has been clear for centuries, millenniums even. This is to find a mate, our basic primal instincts dictate this. Through the years this mindset has changed, however not by much. Marriage was incorporated into our lives as a norm. Now the only difference is that education is included in our ideal little lives. Given, this may vary for some people but this is generally the most popular.

So why do we crave lovers, why do we crave love? It may be simple biology, pheromones but I’m no biologist. Actually, I’ve not even had a sexual attraction to someone so why is marriage still in my plan. Even asexual people want companionship. So there is more than this primal instinct.

My theory is this, not ground breaking in the least but what I think. From a young age we have had love literally crammed down our throats. Little girls with their easily influenced minds watched disney movies which told us that a girl can not be happy until she has a man. Her life is not complete until she has found love, anything less is not real happiness. This carried through their teens until they fianlly reached adulthood. This same lesson was still imprinted into these women’s minds. They attend family reunions and gathering with their friends and are asked if they are seeing anyone and if not then why?.

This can apply to men too, many of the guys that I know are told by their parents to have fun and do whatever until one day, they are thirty and their parents boabard them with questions which follow the general census. They ask why they have not found a nice woman. 

Women create their ideal love story, the ideal man with the ideal story which men can never really achieve. Many men don’t even try with this. Women don’t get treated like princesses like movies have promised them. However they still crave to be loved, by anyone. We crave love because it’s not acceptable to be alone.

So is it simply social convention for someone to be in a loving committed marriage.

Honest answer: I don’t know.
I say I don’t want to marry, simply because I’m lazy. I feel like anything more than friendship with anyone is just too much effort and the idea of this commitment scares me. I can’t imagining just giving (or sharing, depends on your perspective) half my life someone.
I don’t even like the idea of loving someone to an extent in which I need them, everyone wants to be loved but not everyone wants to love.
Despite all this I still read shoujo mangas and romance novels, for a reason that I don’t know.

6 Movies Everyone Loves But I Still Hate

This is just my opinion, feel free to disagree.

6. Harry potter

(This is just about the movies not the books).
Okay, everyone thinks I’m a monster for not liking this movie. However, honestly, I do not get the appeal. So a kid, who sleeps in an attic because his parents abandoned him or died, finds out he’s a wizard. Meets a bunch of wizard kid and play Quidditch. That’s really all there is. The rest of the movie is just building a scenes. It is indeed creative but not original and good for Rowling selling her idea for plenty of money. But the movie is such a bore. I love the actors but there is something about this movie. The setting is built well but I don’t really feel like there is a story line. The kids also fit into all the stereotypes; the nerdy kid, the perfect girl and the kid who tries a little too hard. I watched this as a kid and fell asleep in the cinema. The story line just seems to be non existent but the fact that there are magical kids distract people from this fact.

5. Dirty dancing

First off, I really should’ve known this movie is bad when I heard “everyone called me baby”. So, this story is “summer love” where a rich little kid goes to a fancy ass white country club. And initially hates the bad boy but plot twist they fall in love. Who could’ve seen that coming? So Mr. Bad Boy and Baby supposedly love each other but they don’t have a real conversation and when they do it turns into a very cringe worthy sex scene. Ultimately, it’s a story of summer lust where Baby realised her dad isn’t perfect and goes through a minor rebellious streak. No matter how much I love Patrick Swayze not even he could redeem this train wreck of a movie.

4. Hunger games

(Again based purely on the movie because I loved the books)
The production was good but I can’t say much else nice. The movie relied too much on fans who read the books, the person I went to watch it with left for two minutes and then I had to explain the whole storyline. I tried to show everything in the book but ended up coming all jumbled and kind of a mess. Some parts that didn’t need to be were unnecessarily long and others were rushed through. Take Rue’s death for example this was my favourite part in the book but the movie butchered it. It didn’t quite capture it properly as it was rushed and not fully developed.
The character of gale pissed me of in the book and the movie. I hated this so-called “love” triangle. He wasn’t even in the running. Honestly, I think the movie didn’t focus on Peeta enough and wanted to give Gale more air time than he needed.
I need to comment on the lack of violence, I know they had to dial it down in order to keep it PG but it’s about people killing other people for entertainment, if people were offended if there was violence then they shouldn’t watch it. It should’ve been 15 and include the necessary violence.

3. Avatar

So James Cameron apparently waited 15 years to make this movie. In that time he should’ve thought about executing it better. Once you get past the pretty pictures which will happen in the first half hour you eventually realise that there is still 2 hours to go. So for most of the movie they just show the planet and how pretty and supposedly perfect it is. Then in the last minute they build and complete a story. Humans trying to take nature, power hungry bastards, how original.
The worst thing is was that this could’ve been a good movie. If it was condensed and all the shit was cut out, or not made excruciatingly long then all in all it would’ve been so bad. The story could have been developed properly and not rely to much on the computer imagery.

2. Brave

This movie bored me to tears and I should’ve have turned it off sooner but I watched right until the end. An hour and a half of my life I will never get back. Apparently, it is a “heart touching story of a mother and daughter”. I watched it with my mum and we both shared a heart to heart about how crap it was. So “Merida” is Disney’s epitome of a feminist, simply because she doesn’t want to marry some barbaric prince. Her mother and her disagree on marriage and Merida’s lifestyle. Sounds okay so far, doesn’t it?
Well, this is where shit gets stupid, Merida runs to the forest at night and follows some jellyfish looking things to a line cottage. And when you see a lone cottage you just have to walk into it, which is of course what Merida does. She decides to tell her problems to the “old lady” who lives in the creepy cottage and takes a pie which apparently makes her mum agree with her. Yes, take a pie from a stranger and it will sort out all her problems. Long story short, she trusts this lady enough to give pie to her mum (which could be laced with cyanide) and her mum turns in to a bear. Yes, a bear.

1. Grease

I actually liked this film the first time I watched it then I watched it like a year later and realised how much it sucked. I’m not going to tell you everything wrong in the plot because if you have seen (which everyone has) you’ll already be familiar with these. Once again in the running is a summer lust story. It’s essentially the same as Dirty Dancing but with a change of scenery. Anyway Danny and Sandy meet on the beach but after summer Sandy has to leave. Last minute change of plan and all of a sudden she staying, and going to school in America. Out of all the schools in, all the states she goes to the same as Danny (I guess if she didn’t they couldn’t have made shitloads of money for the story). However she doesn’t she doesn’t tell danny that she’s staying she turns up to the school where he told everyone he fucked her (but you can’t say that in a family film). So she supposedly loves him but can’t even write (or whatever they did then) to tell him she’s staying. There are some songs, blah. Like every other movie ever made they don’t fit into each other’s cliques, so instead of doing the reasonable thing and just accept one another and tell they’re friends to deal with it. They do the next best solution and change themselves and betray everything they have ever known for someone that they met for about a month. In the end seeing as sandy tarts herself, Danny sees no reason to change.

So this was my (kind of) rant. Thanks for reading to this point, even if you hated it.

Movie Moments

“Life experience. I can talk it up, vow to broaden my horizons, but I’m still limited to the experiences with my life.
How can a person understand an experience that lies completely outside her own? She can see it, feel it, imagine what it would be like to live it, but it’s no different from seeing a movie on a screen and saying, “Thank God that’s not me”.”
— Kelley Armstrong

It feels like forever since I’ve posted. Life sucks because it’s too busy. It’s almost been a month since my last post so many ideas have been going through my head.

I wanna talk about how life isn’t like movies. I’ve been fairly optimistic about this but for the past year I’ve noticed that life doesn’t work like that.

First off in those movies have you seen the actors. They’re meant to be 16 years old, believe me when I say I’m 17 and I look nothing like that. I think I’m still going through that “awkward phase”.

Secondly, your in secondary school and you meet the person of your dreams in the most romantic way or you have the most amazing boyfriends. Once again I’m 17 and I’ve never had a boyfriend and it’s not just me, many people my age haven’t had boyfriends. Lots of them do but it’s nothing like the movies.

Thirdly, OMFD this is the thing that annoys me the most. Yes, prom. In the movies the proms are so amazing and everyone looks so good. Finally at the very last second of prom the person you have awaited to come has finally come and there is that moment when the characters embrace in a heartfelt reunion.
Barely, anyone came with a date to my prom (this might be because I’m British and our proms are slightly different than those in America). They just came to say goodbye to their friends. Those who have not have there prom should know, that doesn’t happen. I absolutely hated my prom, it was an utter disappointment. I didn’t even want to go only in a few months prior did I decide. The only thing I liked was my dress (and in the pictures I looked so fat! Sorry I’m still a teenage girl).

Maybe because with people like me things like this don’t happen.
I’ve come to realise I don’t want things like this, this is way too predictable.
Life is beautiful which ever way you live it- but only if you actually live it. Don’t wait around for those ridiculous movie moments because that will never happen but that doesn’t mean there won’t be perfect moments in life.

Smiles