Movies You’ve Always Wondered About

Back in the day, when video rental stores existed, one memory I have is relatively long time to choose a movie–especially, when this involved a group of friends. (The same dynamic has moved over to streaming sites.) During this process, I recall certain films that would look intriguing–either because of the cover design and blurb or because of the cast and director–but for whatever reason, I (we) would never choose the film.

In this thread, I want to discuss some of those films. Please share some of these films, and give some comments if you eventually got around to watching them; or, if you didn’t, why you think you never did. I actually have three that are streaming now, and I just saw one of them. I’ll talk about the film (and hopefully the other two, when I see them) in this thread.

14 thoughts on “Movies You’ve Always Wondered About

  1. The Five Corners (1987)
    Dir. Tony Bill
    screenwriter: John Patrick Stanley
    Starring: Tim Robbins, John Turturro, Jodie Foster,

    I remember seriously considering watching this film (and for some reason I feel like it was an option when we were going to watch videos at either Robin’s house or Don’s). Jodie Foster’s character is terrorized by a guy (Turturro) who recently got out of prison. (He attempted to rape her before he went to jail.) She seeks the help of Tim Robbins’s character, who saved her from the attempted rape.

    The cast seemed good–it looked like a solid movie. What made me hesitate was that I never heard of the film; I don’t think it was released in theaters–i.e., it seemed like a straight to video movie. In much of the 80s, I’d say the straight-to-video movies were almost always bad–or at least that was my impression. (Later, after the 80s, this wasn’t as true.)

    Through years I’d see this film and I’d wondered if I missed out on a hidden gem. Well, the Criterion Channel recently streamed this (which seemed like a good sign). I believe in their write up, they mentioned that this was growing in popularity or something to that effect.

    Do I agree? Unfortunately, the answer is no. I’ll say more in the next section, but let me address one question I had while watching this–namely, would I have enjoyed this had I watched this in the late 80s, early 90s? I tend to think I wouldn’t have loved it, but I might have liked it more than I did.

    Before I explain my negative reaction to the film, I should mention that the film is actually two films in one (sort of). In addition to the story I describe I above, the film also involves an adventurous day of two teenaged girls (or young women in their twenties)–and one of their boyfriends, who’s out looking for them. This has very little to do with the other story (or at least I can’t really see a connection), and it almost feels like an autobiographical episode. In a way, both stories, together, create a kind of slice-of-life movie–specifically what it was like growing up in early 1960’s Bronx. In this way, the film can be seen as part of the 50’s and early 60’s nostalgia that seemed popular in the 70s and 80s–e.g., Stand by Me, American Graffiti. However, these stories don’t really mesh, and it makes the film a bit of a mess.

    Even if you put that aside, the story involving Robbins, Foster, and Turturro isn’t very satisfying–as a drama or thriller. Turturro is psychopath, and Robbins plays a Bronx tough, who turns to pacifism, after hearing Martin Luther King Jr. speak. I’m actually not motivated to explain more. (There’s also a plot point involving a bow and arrow, but, again, I’m not motivated to go into it.)

  2. Bedroom Window (1987)
    Dir. Curtis Hanson
    Starring: Steve Guttenberg, Elizabeth McGovern, Isabelle Hupert, etc.

    I distinctively remember seeing the cover above many times at various video stores, but for some reason I had no interest in watching this. This is an 80’s version of Hitchcock–i.e., similar to a De Palma film, with less filmmaking flair but steeped more in the 80s (in terms of the soundtrack, costumes, etc.).

    The film actually has a good De Palma premise: Terry Lambert (Guttenberg) is having an affair with the boss’s wife, Sylvia (Hupert). Slyvia witnesses a woman being assaulted in the park. The assailant runs away and could be tied to other rapes/murders that have been happening in the city. Naturally, Sylvia doesn’t want to go to the police, because that would expose the affair.

    The film moves along fairly well, but there were several problems I had, which I’ll go over in the next section. In my late teens, early twenties, I suspect I wouldn’t think these were significant problems–and I might have enjoyed the film, at least mildly.

    On a side note: Whatever happened to Gutenberg and McGovern. The former seemed to have a brief moment in the spotlight (e.g., Cocoon and Three Men and a Baby) and then he just seemed to disappear. McGovern maybe wasn’t as well-known, but she also just seemed to vanish.

    Problem one: Guttenberg’s dopey quality can endear him to audiences and it works in comedies like Cocoon, but here it hurts the film in my opinion. In several scenes, he inappropriately flashes that fatuous grin of his, which, at times, made me want to stop watching the film.

    Problem two: The killer murdering Sylvia at the ballet and Lambert arriving at the same time, with Sylvia falling into his arms, was too unlikely.

    Problem three: Denise (McGovern) agreeing to be bait was a bit much–but it was also not uncommon in Hollywood movies at the time (and probably now).

  3. The Reflecting Skin (1990)
    Dir. Philip Ridley
    Starring: Jeremy Cooper (Seth Dove), Lindsay Duncan (Dolphin Blue), Viggo Mortensen (Cameron Dove), Sheila Moore (Ruth Dove), Robert Koons (Sheriff Ticker), etc.

    Almost every time I went into the Tower video in Aiea, I eyed this video, and often held it in my hands, trying to decide if I should watch it. The cover art really looked good.

    Does the movie vindicate the cool cover? For the most part, I’d say so, although with some caveats. I’ve heard the film described as a cult favorite, and that’s apt, reminiscent of something like Herk Harvey’s Carninal of Souls. Like other cult favorites, the flaws of the film can actually enhance the film. I think that’s true here–specifically, the B-movie acting, the quality you might see in an earnest made for TV movie–and the dramatic film score. On the other hand, the visuals are really good (hat tip to Dick Pope, the cinematographer), helping the film punch above its weight. (I assume this was a low budget film.)

    This is a coming-of-age film that seems like a depiction David Lynch’s childhood. Surrounded by wheat fields (think Days of Heaven), Seth is a nine-year old growing up with his friends and family in a Midwest. Some descriptions of the film make it sound like a series of different coming-of-age type of incidents, some of which involve wild imagination and the macbre, but there is also a story, involving a widowed British neighbor, missing children, and Seth’s brother (Mortensen) returning from WWII.

    By the way, the film almost made me think of Leolo, although less fantastical.

  4. There’s a film called The Pompatus of Love (1996) whose title cracked me up when I first saw the box on the Blockbuster shelf. If you know the allusion, you might know why.

    Someone must have rented it and never returned it, because I looked for it whenever I went to that Blockbuster (Kam Shopping Center) and it was never in.

  5. Sorry Reid. I deleted the images in your posts because they were linked right from other websites. If you want to embed an image, there’s a “choose files” button beneath your comment window that lets you upload an image to our own server, then includes the image in the comment automatically. Don’t worry about other images you’ve done this with (some of which I already downloaded from their source then uploaded to our server then embedded in your comments) but please don’t do this anymore.

    1. Oh shoot sorry about that. (So I’m assuming uploading an image to the v-i server is self-explanatory and easy?)

      1. Try it. Make a new comment, then upload a photo using the “choose files” button below the comment box.

    2. Is it possible to upload a photo after the comment is posted (using the editing feature)?

      (I’ll try to upload an image the next time I review a film, which should be soon.)


      I tried uploading an image….I realized I’ve done this before. First, I have to download the image to my computer (chromebook), and then I have to upload the image, using the “choose image” button (or whatever it’s called.) The one thing I didn’t like was that I could never see where the image would be; I could never move it; and I could only post one image per post (as far as I know).

      I think that’s why I started posting images in the way you told me not to.

  6. Time Bandits (1982)
    Dir. Terry Gilliam

    I recently wondered about whether a rating in the 50s makes any sense. Such a rating suggests something between good and bad, but most films at least either lean towards good or bad. But this film feels like a good example of a 50-ish film. I didn’t think the film was all that good, but I can’t say it was bad, either. Even if I evaluated the film in the context of a chlldren’s movie, I wouldn’t give it a high score. My guess is that the film would bore most elementary-aged children.

    However, like Guillermo Del Toro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, I did enjoy Gilliam’s sci-fi/fantasy costumes and set pieces. (I’m guessing Gilliam influenced Del Toro and Jeunet.) Here’s an example:

    Here are two others examples of visuals and effects that I liked:


    But if you take away these visual aspects the film was a bit dull–in terms of the action, comedy, and the extent to which the story was entertaining. (Interestingly, the film featured some Monty Python regulars, but without the Monty Python brand of humor, which was a shame.)

  7. Deep End (1970)
    Dir. Jerzy Skolimowski

    This is one of several films from the 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die list that I was never able to see, until recently. Is it a worthy pick? Maybe. Perhaps, one could make a case base on the way it depicts the struggle men and women have in forming relationships, especially the way the desire for sex can add to the difficulty and contribute to irrational and destructive behavior. In this way, the film reminded me of L’Avventura and The Piano, but maybe more sexually charged than either. Additionally, the film provides an interesting commentary on the male sexual fantasies and the male conception of the ideal relationship, and how those two things clash in our culture and society.

  8. Repo Man (1984)
    Dir. Alex Cox
    Starring: Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton, etc.

    Repo Man

    When I went to video stores, I was mildly curious about this movie, but I don’t think I was ever seriously interested in because a) it looked weird and b) it looked like a low-budget, weird film–the type of movie that would be on the USA Up All Night program. However, much later some of the comments I heard about the film piqued my interest. Because this was after the death of video stores, I didn’t have easy access to the film (and it almost never plays on any of the streaming sites–until Netflix is now doing).

    I never knew that about reposition, as a job, but had I known back in the 80s, the film might have appealed to me more. It seems a good for a film. The idea behind this film was to place a punk rocker in this position, which seems like a good match. Estevez in this role was really good in my view–perhaps giving one of the best expressions of FU hostility towards authority and an overall I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude that I’ve seen on film. And except for maybe one or two moments (which doesn’t ruin it), he sustains this throughout the film.

    The film follows Otto as he becomes a repo man and in the process we get to learn about this profession and the other people in it. Part of the film also involves an unusually high bounty on a mysterious car.

    The film is a B-movie, but has it’s an interesting sensibility–making me think of Buckaroo Banzai. It’s the type of film that I could see John Carpenter really liking.

    One thing that disappointed me was the music, which wasn’t as hard and aggressive as I would have liked.

    1. Yeah that’s how I felt about the music in Heavy Metal, which I still have not seen ‘though I’ve listened to the soundtrack. But the music is the reason I always wanted to see Repo Man (mostly because of “Institutionalized”), which I thought was in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, but I just looked it up and apparently I’m mistaken.

      I saw it on HBO a million years ago, like when we were in high school, but forgot pretty much everything about it, then saw it again several years ago via Netflix DVD and liked it a lot. You’re going to scoff (or be amused) but it reminded me a lot of They Live 🙂

      Oh, and if there’s ever something you want to see and it’s not streaming anywhere, look for it at the UH Manoa library website. I have borrowing privileges and I get DVDs there all the time. This weekend I borrowed three films set in Hawaii — The Castaway Cowboy, 50 First Dates, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. I’m happy to get something for you. Lending period’s a week. I say this because it’s got Repo Man; I just looked it up.

      1. Oh I forgot to say two of our HS classmates were very fond of this movie. Jami and Kristy. Another reason I looked forward to seeing it.

    2. I have mostly a positive reaction when thinking about The Heavy Metal soundtrack, but I think anyone expecting metal would be disappointed.

      You’re going to scoff (or be amused) but it reminded me a lot of They Live 🙂

      No, I wouldn’t. I thought of John Carpenter’s films while watching this (hence my comment about guessing he would like this film). I don’t know if I would have picked The Live, but it seems like a good choice, although the stories are really different.

      Oh, and if there’s ever something you want to see and it’s not streaming anywhere, look for it at the UH Manoa library website.

      Oh that Is awesome. If I think of anything I’ll definitely let you know…Do they have any of Naoko Ogigami’s newer films. I’ve never seen Jodorowsky’s El Topo or Holy Mountain, and I’ve been wanting to see both. Lav Diaz or Bela Tarr films? (I’ll go look these up.)

      Re: Jami and Kristy liking this. That doesn’t surprise me.

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