Monday, 7 November 2016

Monday night movies

In recent weeks I have turned the wrong side of forty (there was much rejoicing, the odd choir of angels, and a few more grey hairs) which naturally got me thinking to the old days.

As mentioned in a previous post I watched quite a variety of films as a lad. I feel pretty well learned in the classic Ealing comedies, David Lean, historical epics and Harold Lloyd (there'll be more on him in the future). But it was when I hit my teenage years that the power of film to open up my eyes really struck home.

Back in the day BBC2 went through a prolonged period of putting on a movie at 9pm every Monday night. I'm not sure if there was ever a particular remit they were working towards but what I remember is an awful lot of American movies from the early to mid Eighties. In particular, there seemed to be plenty of road movies, and films that became some of my all-time favourites with actors whose careers I would follow for the rest of my life (or at least this far).

It was at this point that I decided that I would never be as cool as Andrew McCarthy or John Cusack. To be fair, I was never going to be as cool as the milky bar kid either, but these American actors seemed effortless in their casualness.

I'll start with John Cusack. Even today I'll search him out in films even though his last great movie was High Fidelity, and possibly a supporting part in Con Air. His turn in Say Anything was brilliantly judged, and for me the scene with the ghetto blaster is about as iconic as an American indie movie can get. And then there was The Sure Thing, not a great film by any means but it certainly spoke to my teenage desire to get out of a small town and go on a journey.

Say something. Anything.
As for Andrew McCarthy, well he seemed destined to be one of the actors who never quite made it as big as I wanted him to be. Sure, he was the lead in Mannequin, but it was his role in the movie Class that made me sort of want to be him. Which is pretty good going when you're up against the de facto young idol that was Rob Lowe. He managed to be cool (see above, that's quite an important attribute for a teenage boy to aspire to) and at the same time clever and just a touch vulnerable. It turns out that he rarely acts anymore which is a real shame. But then maybe that's a good thing. I never got to see his awkward acting phase which may have happened if he'd carried on (yes Nicolas Cage, I am looking at you).

But both of these pale in comparison to Kevin Costner. For those of you too young to remember, Kevin Costner was once the hottest property in Hollywood. I know right?! Hard to believe. Anyone my age or above would do well to remember this. Yes, there was Waterworld and The Postman, but there was also Dances With Wolves, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Untouchables, No Way Out, JFK, the list actually goes on. If there's an American sports film being made and he's not in it, it's not going to be any good (that's pretty much a cast iron fact. Go watch Tin Cup and Draft Day and you'll see how good he is).

Before all of this happened he made a film called Fandango which is one of the greatest road movies ever made (another Dom Fact right there). It's directed by Kevin Reynolds who also directed Waterworld, and is one of Kev's first movies. This is not an attempt to be a Costner hipster, I really did love this movie years ago. So much so that my other half got me an import copy on DVD for my birthday some years ago, and it may be one of my most cherished possessions (very sad, very true). In the movie he plays the leader of a college group called The Groovers, and he is the epitome of cool wearing a pair of broken sunglasses, and spending most of the movie wandering round in his beaten up graduation tuxedo. The group are searching for Dom, which is possibly the original reason I loved this movie, and journey across America in a beaten up old car to find him. Hilarity ensues, but this isn't going to turn into a film review so you'll have to see it for yourself.

Not a very good film poster.
So what's my point here? BBC2 introduced me to a whole new world of films and actors which are still with me today. With the proliferation of channels available there doesn't seem to be the same focus from channels about curating specific slots for movies anymore which feels like a shame. I also remember that 6pm on BBC2 was always the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan series for what felt like most of my early life. With all the channels available seemingly full of repeats of soap operas and reality TV, there seems a void of culture which classic films could easily fill.

But then, maybe I'm just getting old and cranky. Ah, the good old days. Bear with me while I don my rose-tinted glasses and gaze fondly into the past. Enjoy!

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