Starman (1984): The Most Underrated Love Story Ever. (Spoilers)

     On this Valentine’s Day, I was thinking of some romantic movies to basically cry over (I keeps it real). Strangely though one movie has randomly come up time and time again among my male friends: John Carpenter’s Starman. 
     Never heard of it? 

      First, sit in the corner and think about your life choices

      Secondly, be prepared to happy cry your ass off, because it’ll give you hope in love. 

      Thirdly, it’s a science fiction flick, so it’s alright for men to cry. If you don’t, you must have the darkest of souls, and need professional help. 

     The premise is pretty straightforward: An alien has crashed on earth and needs to get home. He comes across a widow (Karen Allen) who’s grieving over the death of her husband (Jeff “The Dude” Bridges). The “Starman” takes her late husband’s form from a hair strand. After losing her shit, she reluctantly drives him to the rendezvous point. 

     And obviously she starts to fall in love with him, but that’s not makes this movie special. There’s way too many reasons. 

     Jeff Bridges is clearly, one of the greatest actors who has ever lived. I’m not kidding. I may be in the minority, but this role is the best performance he has ever given. With his clipped speech, and awkward, jerky movements, I thought this was a real story about an alien (I was not a bright child). The man gives a balancing act of weird, but gentle, comical, but without condescension.

      I have never been more in love with Karen Allen in my life because of this movie. Its her character arch that the whole movie hinges on. yeah its predictable that she’ll fall in love with the Starman, but my god its so organic, so effortless, that you accept its formula, and move on. How does she make being strongly vulnerable so easy? You feel sorry for her, sure, but you don’t pity her at all. I admire her. And the train scene…

     I’ll try not to cry, but the train scene (too late) is so beautiful. Karen Allen’s character, Jenny Hayden, cannot have children and explains it to the Starman. On the train, stowing away, they make love. 

     Then he tells her he gave her a baby. That it would be both her husband’s baby, but also his baby.

     Jesus Christ. 

     He tells her he will be a teacher, and if she didn’t want it, he will stop it. The genuine emotions in this scene are so masterful. He tells her happily, she is just overwhelmed. 

     The music in this scene, by Jack Nitzsche, is going to break you in tears. Especially the final scene where he has to say goodbye to her. Where she finally gets to say goodbye to a form of her husband. I mean, man, she gets to have a baby now. Trust me on this, the music will get you. 

     The funny thing is, I completely forgot about how the US military is after them because alien? It makes some important points about the savagery of humanity  (especially the deer scene), but its the love story at its core that makes me weep. 

     And still to this day, my father bitches about how a sequel was never made. Seriously, every person who’s seen it wants to know what happened to the baby. I kid you not, Jeff Bridges said this even in an interview for Tron: Legacy. 

     For this Valentine’s Day, this movie will bring couples together. Even the most cynical. You won’t regret it. 


John Wick Chapter 2 Review

     All of this started because of a dog. Jesus. 

      A couple of years ago, John Wick graced our screens and quickly became one of my favorite action movies of all time. Rarely do you see a film that manages to take a simple premise, hoods killed his dog, and it propels you into a world so dense, so rich that you just want to stay in it. 

     I can’t remember the last time a new sequel made me so giddy with excitement. 

     John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has just gotten satisfaction from killing the assholes who killed his dog, and is ready to retire… again. But someone from his past is back to collect a debt, a blood oath that if he refuses could have dire consequences for his existence. So, the carnage begins again. And you’ll never be happier. 

     John Wick Chapter 2 needs to be taught in films schools on how to craft a sequel. This isn’t a retread, but an actual continuation of the story. Sure this time he’s not causing millions in property damage because someone killed his dog, but you still get sucked into this world that was only glimpsed at in the original. 

     Yes, here’s a follow-up that expands upon the foundation of the original. 

     The action here comes off as nothing short of art. Seeing the picture, I was astonished at how much of a comic book feel it generates. I’m talking an actual old school comic book, with deep, rich, luscious colors, blood splatters that would make Jackson Pollack proud, and editing so precise that, holy shit, I can see what’s happening in the scene. This needs to be the standard, not the exception. 

     When the original was released, I proudly included it among the best films of 2014. I have never been happier to say that I saw a sequel that is in so many ways better. Chapter 3 can’t get here soon enough. 

Why the Ending to Trainspotting was Perfect 

     With the recent release of T2: Trainspotting in the U.K. I got to thinking again about how much I’m both excited, and terrified, about the prospect of a sequel, especially 20 years later. 

     Full disclosure: I read the sequel novel, Porno about 10 years ago, and to say I was not impressed is to put it really mild. God, that book was terrible and a waste of a follow-up. So when I heard that not only was there going to be a movie, but that if anything, it was going to barely reference the novel, I felt relief. 

     But there was something still eating away at me; I still didn’t really want a sequel to one of my favorite films of all time. I loved the characters, yes even Begbie, and I did want to know what happened. But still…

     Of course the easy answer was that the ending to Trainspotting was just the perfect note to end the film on. 

     Renton is a character that goes through the perfect arc for himself. In the opening, Renton dismisses the idea of “Choose Life” and conform to the foundations of society. Well, because of the heroin. 

     Let me get to the point: The ending is such a satisfying conclusion because of the fact that Renton was put through such hell during the film. I mean the second half obviously, when he kicked his habit and actually started living a life for himself. 

     Then Begbie and Sick Boy show up and mess it all up for him. 

     Renton was in a real tight spot, and finally had enough to the point that he straight up stole 16,000 pounds. Any one of us could only wish we had that kind of reckless courage. 

     But what brought tears of joy when I saw the film the first time was this line:

         “So why’d I do it? I could offer a million answers, all false. The truth is that I’m a bad person. But that’s going to change…”

     To fully recognize that you’re a “bad person” when you so clearly are, is such an overwhelming positive realization, that you can help but smile, at least, at such self discovery. I applauded in my room, and I was so content. 

     I’m not gonna lie, I always caught myself wondering what happened to the guys; what became of them. I especially thought of Renton and hoped that he chose life, and settled down to a blissful life. That was the beauty of the ending: the possibility of hope to a character that more than earned his happiness. 

     That sums up why, ultimately, I am worried about T2: Trainspotting. The ambiguity will be gone, and I will find out what happened to them. I guess I don’t want the ending negated because the filmmakers couldn’t think of a decent fucking story. I hope that isn’t the case, but there’s only one way to find out.