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Entries in Amy Heckerling (7)

Wednesday
Oct 04 2017

"American Girl": Tom Petty at the Movies.

BySalim Garami

What's good?

In memory of the musical legend Tom Petty,I couldn't help thinking about how the movies essentially introduced me to my love for his music (much as movies happen to introduce me to a lot of music I come to hold close to my heart) and I wanted to have something to say about it.

So I looked to two wildly different films that utilize the quintessential Heartbreakers classic "American Girl",the jangly pumping tune about a young girl looking out in hopes of a world outside her balcony.It was his second big hit,riding on the success of previous single "Breakdown",and it's instantly recognizable in the Diddley-esque high chords strumming and the sort of bass drum kick-snare pattern that makes one pop up and ready to move.It's no less infectious than any pop song of the day in its simplicity.So it only makes sense that so many films and tv series would be eager to use it in their soundtracks.

Take It Easy,Baby,and Find Out Which Films I Choose After the Break...

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Thursday
Sep 24 2015

Women's Pictures - Amy Heckerling's Vamps

How does it feel to be a relic in the new millenium?No shade intended towards Amy Heckerling.Her most recent film was obsessed with just that question.InVamps, Heckerling attempted to take a bite (sorry) out of youth culture using 2012's movie monster of the moment,the vampire.But in her latest foray into social satire,the genre-defining writer/director who gave a voice to two generations of teens seemed drained (sorry) of the empathy that had made her previous work enjoyable.To put it bluntly:Vampssucks.*

*If you dislike puns,don't B negative.They only get worse from here.

For a film about youth,Vampshas a surprising number of well-preserved throwbacks.Alicia Silverstone stars as Goody,a 300 year old vampire.She's joined by a colorful-though-pale cast including Sigourney Weaver,Wallace Shawn,Malcolm MacDowell,Richard Lewis,Marilu Henner and Krysten Ritter,who plays Goody's sister vampire,Stacy.Goody's hundreds of years of un-life as a 20-something have given her pesrpective on the fashions and follies of humanity,though she thinks the latest generation's slang and smartphones are a pain in the neck (sorry).Stacy,who was turned in the 1980s,acts as Goody's ambassador to modern youth culture,at least until Stacy falls for a human (Dan Stevens) in her night film class at NYU.Stacy's relationship,and the return of a past beau,suddenly makes Goody's world a bloody (sorry) mess.More...

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Thursday
Sep 17 2015

Women's Pictures - Amy Heckerling's Clueless

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a teen movie made after 1995 owes a debt toClueless.Since its release 20 years ago,Amy Heckerling's classic has had surprising longevity: it revitalized teen fashion in the wake of grunge,resuscitated a genre (while also spawning a new subgenre),spawned a platinum soundtrack,launched a new generation of acting careers,likewayaltered the teenage lexicon,and inspired a rap video as late as 2014.We at Team Experiencereference itat leastonce a year.And thoughCluelesslanded at #3 on our recentBack To School Team Top 10,the two films that topped it were both direct beneficiaries ofClueless's wit and satire.Cluelessredefined the teen film genre,divorcing it from the darkness of the 80s,while maintaining the social satire and serious observation that gave the totally quotable dialog resonance for an optimistic,clueless new generation of 90s teens.

When Amy Heckerling was refining her Austen-inspired idea at Paramount,the genre she had helped create a decade previous withFast Times At Ridgemont Highwas faltering.[More...]

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Thursday
Sep 10 2015

Women's Pictures - Amy Heckerling's Look Who's Talking

For some as of yet unexplained reason,1980s American movies experienced a baby boom.Movies about family are always popular,but from about 1983 to 1995,the box office went gaga for babies.Mr.Mom,3 Men and a Baby,Raising Arizona,and evenJuniorshowed that for a brief period of time,there was nothing funnier or more heartwarming in Hollywood than people who didn't want kids suddenly becoming parents.Amy Heckerling jumped onto this baby buggy bandwagon with her freshman screenwriting effort,Look Who's Talking.

Talking babies are now almost passe as a conceit,thanks toReal Baby Geniuses,Rugrats,and those creepy e*trade Superbowl ads.But in 1989,the idea was new enough for Roger Ebert to point it out in his 3 star review of the film.Still,minus the talking baby (voiced by Bruce Willis and only audible to the audience),the rest ofLook Who's Talkingis formulaic in the classic romcom way - there's a Meet Cute,then Opposites Attract,an Unlikely Romance starts,which ends in a Romantic Reveal and the requisite Happy Ending,all of which is predictable from the minute Kirstie Alley's water breaks in the back of John Travolta's taxi.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing.Amy Heckerling's talents as a director are of the kind that we don't usually reward with golden statues or the word "auteur."[More after the jump]

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Thursday
Sep 03 2015

Women's Pictures - Amy Heckerling's Fast Times At Ridgemont High

The Film Experience is proud to welcome back Anne Marie and her series "Women's Pictures"亚博主页after a month long hiatus.September's episodes (each Thursday) will focus on Amy Heckerling.If you missed previous subjects,Anne Marie's series on female directors already coveredAva DuVernay,Ida Lupino,Jane Campion,Sofia Coppola,Agnes Varda,Kathryn Bigelow- Editor

The days are getting shorter,the weather is turning colder,and just as you perfected your righteous tan,the bell rings and it's back to school you go!Anne Marie here,after my own (all too brief) summer vacation,ready to celebrate Back To School month with the female filmmaker who has exercised as much influence on the Teen Film genre as John Hughes: Amy Heckerling!While Heckerling's ouevre has run the gamut from slapstick to parody to fantasy,she's best known for two genre-defining high school films made a little over a decade apart:Clueless(1995),which we will cover later,andFast Times At Ridgemont High(1982),the topic of today's lesson.

When Heckerling set about makingFast Times at Ridgemont Highin the early 1980s,she wasn't looking to define a genre.There wasn't yet a teen film genre to define.John Hughes was still two years away from makingSixteen Candles,andAmerican Grafitti,now pointed to as the first teen film,was already almost decade old with few major successors.What drew Amy Heckerling to Cameron Crowe's script about high school students was the realness of its characters.Fast Times At Ridgemont Highwas no nostalgia-tinged look backward at youth;it was an expose written by Cameron Crowe,who'd gone undercover at a high school forRolling Stoneto observe contemporary teens.Fast Times at Ridgemont Highwas something new: high school from the teenager's perspective.[More...]

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Friday
Aug 22 2014

Look Who's Talking (1989) and the Perils of Revisiting Childhood Faves

Hello everyone,Manuelhere jumping aboard my personal DeLorean and taking a trip to 1989 to catch up with what's still Amy Heckerling's biggest box office success,the comedyLook Who's Talking.

There's a certain joy and sadness in revisiting films you remember enjoying as a kid.Some,because of their continued playback on cable or at your own home theater,seem to age with you so that their flaws become endearing while their wonders become treasures you hoard as if they were intended just for you.In this,films can be like old friends.Catching up with one you haven't seen in over a decade can be a terrifying prospect.Have they aged well?Do you still share the same sense of humor?Will there be awkward silences where there were laughs before?

Much like its stock male lead,Look Who's Talkingis a flawed,sloppy,lovable creature.It may feature the scariest CGI baby that side ofAlly McBeal,but at its heart it's a funny rom-com that handles its "women having it all!"plot with aplomb.Heckerling's quippy film follows Mollie (Kristie Alley) whose married lover (George Segal) knocks her up,refuses to divorce his wife for her (doing so instead for his younger interior decorator),leaving her to raise young Mikey by herself.John Travolta plays James,a roguish cab driver who after helping Mollie deliver her son,begins babysitting for her and well… you can probably guess where the film eventually lands.Certain things have aged better than others.The performances still shine.Proving why they were stars before they were Kathy Griffin punchlines,Travolta and Kristie show that a great rom-com needs great chemistry at its center to succeed.Indeed,Travolta's on-screen charisma remains undeniable whenever he's dancing while Alley's comedic timing shows why she was a sitcom superstar.And that doesn't even cover the presence of always welcome Olympia Dukakis who proves she can do raucously funny no-nonsense mom in her sleep.My favorite exchange from the film is Mollie asking her mom why she married her father:

-He looked good in a uniform.

-Yes,but didn't they all look good in uniform?

-No...I didn't care for the sailors and their bell-bottoms!"

It's all in the delivery,but there's a spark in Heckerling's script that is undeniable.The same cannot be said for the central conceit of the film.Hearing Bruce Willis's voice as Mikey's inner monologue is as bizarre as it sounds and adds very little to the film as a whole;maybe this explains the diminishing returns of the film's two sequels which relied more heavily on its voice actors (Roseanne Barr,Diane Keaton and Danny DeVito) and thus on its rickety gimmick?

Mikey,voiced by Bruce Willis

IfLook Who's Talkingis indeed an old friend,it's one I'll be unlikely to catch up with any time soon.She's just as nice as I remember her,if not as funny but her schtick gets old very soon (am I the only one impervious to cute kids in films unless they're named Richie and are (s)mothered by Julianne Moore?).Now I'm scared to see other old friends from that time (I'm looking at youWillow!) for fear I'll be just as disappointed.

What childhood staple have you revisited recently?Are there films better left as untouched warm memories of sitting around with friends in party hats while celebrating one's sixth birthday?