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The Bottom Shelf #85

12.07.2006

Character studies are not big money making adventures at the box office. Most people want to see action and the bigger the better. It is indeterminable to see the monumental change that can go on inside of a person unless you cut their guts open on the screen, and personally, I didn't like HOSTEL all that much. But the two movies I'm reviewing this week I did like.

TIMES SQUARE (1980)
Directed by: Allan Moyle
Starring: Trini Alvarado, Tim Curry

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It comes as no surprise to most people when I reveal that I was a bizarre little kid. Tales of my childhood adventures are met with knowing smirks and averted eyes. One of the things about my past that still surprises me is that I was a huge fan of this movie. So much so, I begged to be dressed up as a Sleaze Sister for Halloween that year. I paraded the streets that last night in October looking much like the girls in the end of this movie. Oh, in case I forget to mention, I was 6 years old at the time.

TIMES SQUARE details the lives of two teenaged girls, one a long-time veteran of the streets, the other a privileged daughter of a prominent businessman. When the two girls meet in the hospital where they are being checked for seizure disorders, they decide to run off and become refugees to the system. Well, at least that's what the filmmaker would like us to believe. In essence this movie is more about bonding with another person, that person who understands us best, even though it seems like they shouldn't understand us at all.

I had to look at the rating on the movie to make sure my ears and eyes weren't deceiving me. The flick is rated R, and it surprised me to know that my parents had let me watch a restricted movie at such a young age. Then I decided to pull back and assess that the movie didn't cross many more boundaries that most PG-13 rated flicks do these days. The f-bomb is commonly dropped and the themes involving the idea of a 13 year old girl working in a topless bar are sure to make certain parents cringe, but I can see what my parents were getting at in letting me watch this movie. The message is more about love and acceptance of who we are than anything else. Plus, it's quite possibly the grittiest looking movie featuring young kids living on the streets, perhaps because it was shot entirely on location in New York.

Favorite Scene:

Tim Curry chews up the scenery in every scene that he's in. Only in my wet dreams would that man be a radio show host, the sound of his voice oozing from the speakers like honey.

Favorite Line:

"No sense makes sense."

Trivia Tidbit:

The film was inspired by a diary that director Moyle found in between the cushions of a couch he bought second hand. The diary was written by a mentally disturbed young woman and included words and drawing about her life on the streets.

See if you liked:

PUMP UP THE VOLUME, HEAVENLY CREATURES, SID & NANCY

THE WATERDANCE (1992)
Directed by: Neal Jimenez, Michael Steinberg
Starring: Eric Stoltz, Helen Hunt

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People tend to take for granted the things that they can do on a regular basis. Tying your shoes, brushing your teeth, and for men, getting an erection. So what happens if one day you get into an accident which hinders your ability to do these things? Your mind is there but your body won't cooperate. How would you handle it?

THE WATERDANCE tells the story of a writer who breaks his neck during a hiking accident and details the trials that he goes through over the course of his stay in a rehabilitation center. While there, he has to learn to deal with being a paraplegic, how to handle not being able to have sex with his girlfriend like he used to and comes into contact with several different personalities at the center. He finds out who he really is and that that doesn't have so much to do with what his body is capable of.

Eric Stoltz and Helen Hunt are great as always, but much of the movie works when Wesley Snipes and William Forsythe are in scenes. Snipes is a lying scoundrel who never gives a direct answer on how his injury occurred. Forsythe is a bigoted Hell's Angel who became paralyzed after an accident. Long before Snipes was chewing up the screen with lousy, dialed-in action "star" performances, he excelled at being a fantastically funny character actor. Forsythe's Bloss is a study in how a disability will erase racial boundaries. Overall, the movie thrives on the quality of acting performances in it and teaches a lesson without ever coming off as preachy.

Favorite Scene:

When Joel & Bloss assault the people in charge of directing calls.

Favorite Line:

[after listening to Bloss' racially heated speech about who gets to decide what's on the television]
"My last name's Garcia."

Trivia Tidbit:

The movie is a semi-autobiographical story about director Neal Jimenez becoming a paraplegic after a hiking accident.

See if you liked:

SCENT OF A WOMAN, PASSION FISH, MURDERBALL

Give me a flawed individual who needs to find out who they are. Give me a perfect individual who becomes flawed and realizes that they had no clue who they were all this time. Give me a person I can care about, let me watch them evolve. Save the flashy stuff for network television.

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