Monday, 28 February 2011

Pretty Woman

If I were to list actors I can't stand Richard Gere would come close to the top of the list. I can't abide him. Yet he made An Officer and a Gentleman (totally top film) and Pretty Woman. If I were to continue to actresses who irritate me then Julia Roberts is also very near the top of the list (Nicole Kidman is worse). However, Pretty Woman is an irresistible film. It's morally well dodgy, it's cheesy and ridiculous but it's oh so watchable. If it's on TV, I can never resist watching it for a bit, if not the whole film.

If we were to only judge Julia Roberts on this, then she'd be one of my favourite actresses as she is amazingly good in this. Natural, warm and genuinely gorgeous. I don't know where it all went so wrong for her really. This is a dream breakthrough role for any actress. I realise others don't think it went wrong for her but I submit for the evidence files: Mary Shelly, Sleeping with the Enemy, Hook (to be fair, nobody comes out well in Hook), Stepmom (I've actually never seen this but the premise makes me want to hurl) and I Love Trouble.

Richard Gere is still a nightmare. Urgh. For starters, he's NOT attractive. He mumbles through scenes. He lacks any charisma. I hate him in this more than any other film. And yes, I include Runaway Bride.

This is Julia's film and she nails it. It has some wonderful quotes, a fabulous soundtrack and all-round marvellous 80s-ness. Best scene, hands down, is this. Enjoy!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Power Ballads - If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher

In honour of Oscar Night, may I present Cher? Here is a woman who knows that the Oscars are no occasion for a tasteful little Armani number. Oh no. How I miss the days where stars would push the boat out and give us all something to talk about. Jennifer Aniston, take note. This is how you turn up to an award ceremony. God bless you Cher.

While we're on Cher, she is also a woman who is no slouch in the power ballads department. Again, there is a veritable smörgåsbord for us to choose from. I Found Someone was a close runner-up but really, when a video is as fine as this, there is no choice. Sing it Cher. And one day, I will have that Leather and Lace themed party....

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sex and the City

Sex and the City. Just typing it feels controversial after the disastrous second movie. But let's rehabilitate SATC. The movies may not have been up to much but the TV series was great. I know people say they hated it but if you were in your 20s when it came on TV, it really was ground-breaking.  Why does it belong on this blog? Because any teenage girl would love this show.

A TV series about girlfriends. Yes, they had sex, shopped and they drank cocktails but this was primarily a TV show that celebrated female friendship. How fabulous is that? At the time, way back in 1998, it was also very rare. It was very funny, especially the early series. And it made New York almost like a fifth character and any show set in Manhattan is worth my time. I make no apology for loving it. I watched every episode but I was pleased when it ended as it was definitely time.

This scene is one of my favourite from the entire show. Not only does it reference The Way We Were (a film I adore because of Barbra Streisand who is my heroine) but the way they talk about the film is so real to me. It's how me and my friends talk about things we love too. And I find the look on Samantha's face when they start singing hilarious. I couldn't stand Carrie (nothing to do with SJP, more the fact that she was so whiny and annoying) but I love her in this scene. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Take That

Where do I start when talking about Take That? A band I really never thought would survive and just look at them now.

Way back in the last century I went to university. While I was there I made a dear friend who introduced me to Barry Manilow. We shared a love of Lenny Kravitz. Yes, we were destined to become BFF. And the day she discovered a little band called Take That was a fateful one. I clearly remember her coming back after the Christmas holidays in the second year, coming round to my house clutching a video tape and saying "Teenager! You have to watch this video I have of a band called Take That."

And so an obsession began. Yes, we were too old to be such hardcore devoted fans but we were doing an arts degree, we had time on our hands. I won't go into the indignity now but it involved buying every single issue of Smash Hits, discussing which one was the best endlessly and watching that video daily. We went to see them live, some of us chased after tour buses and we mourned when they split. But it felt right. I was never happy with their Bee Gees cover.

Years passed. Marky (he is always Marky) went on Celebrity Big Brother, Gary released some turgid songs, Robbie grew an ego the size of a mountain and we laughed at what we were once like. We were cured. No more TT obsession for us.

Then they got back together. And even then, I was a bit apathetic. No Robbie? It didn't feel quite right. I was never a huge Robbie fan but I felt TT without him wasn't quite right. Then my dear friend got me a ticket to see them at Wembley - the tour with the elephant. We went along not expecting much and OMG, it was awesome. It was properly incredible. Before we knew it, the obsession was back. Maybe not in quite such force as we're, ummmm, grown ups now and have jobs and lives and stuff. But suddenly I was listening to TT songs all the time, I had an opinion on Gary (not so bad these days), Marky let me down with his affairs and BOOM, who were we kidding, we were Thatters again.

As if all that wasn't enough, Robbie rejoined the band! The impossible happened. Four were five again and oh, you couldn't make it up could you? So off we go to Wembley again this July to see all five of them once more. Almost 20 years after we did that first time. And I think their songs are better than ever. Rule the World? Marvellous. In fact, a power ballad I love.

So keep em coming boys as in a small corner of London, you'll always have a Thatter holding a candle for you. And Jason? Mrs Orange sounds good to me.

Power Ballads - Alone, Heart

Just look at the Wilson sisters and tell me you didn't love Heart. No, I don't believe you. They rawked baby! Alone with Bonnie Tyler, they are the queens of the power ballad. It's hard to pick the ultimate Heart song and I dithered with These Dreams but in the end, it's all about Alone.

This video is genius.

Big hair - check
Exploding pianos - check
Air guitar moments - check
Long sweeping clothes - check

One day I will have a Heart Tribute party as surely they deserve it? In the meantime, enjoy Alone. One of the best sing-along songs ever written.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Opening credits - LA Law

There are many good reasons I am not a lawyer. Didn't get the grades, could never learn all that law stuff, short attention span. Those are just a few. But oh to be Susan Dey in LA Law. I so wanted to be her. Gracie. The DA with the mostest who got to go home with Harry Hamlin and Jimmy Smits.

LA Law was another obsession of mine and yes, I know, it looks like I never went out in the 1980s. Frankly why would you when the tv was this good? I watched this again a few years ago when it was repeated on some channel and it's still just as good, especially the early episodes.

I think these opening credits are fab and so delightfully long. Marvellous.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club was a film I didn't actually love back in the 80s. On reflection, what was I thinking? It's only one of the best 80s movies ever and a career highlight for John Hughes. Only Ferris Bueller is better and the reason I prefer Ferris is because it is more light hearted and fun.

However The Breakfast Club is completely awesome. Just watch the trailer and remind yourself how great this film is.

Reasons TBC rocks:
1) Judd Nelson. Bender is one of the greatest characters in any teen movie. "Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?" Probably my favourite line in any film, ever.
2) The Simple Minds song. I don't like Simple Minds but who doesn't love 'Don't You Forget About Me?' So perfect for this film and for the moment they play it at the end.
3) The little dance scene. This clip is terrible quality but worth watching for Emilio alone.
4) Molly Ringwald. She was never better. Not even in Betsy's Wedding...
5) Ally Sheedy. I love how weird she is and how she decorates her drawing with snowflakes by shaking her dandruff on it. I wish she didn't have to be made over but hey, it was the 80s, that's what they did.

Any film that can hold your attention for an hour and half in a school library gets my vote. So here's to The Breakfast Club; its quotable lines and its angst. Often copied but never bettered.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Power Ballads - Heaven, Bryan Adams

The first in a new series in which I talk about power ballads I love and adore. This will be a long series as there is very little I love more than a soaring power ballad. The cheesier the better. Those power ballad CDs you can get in service stations? Made for me.

So first up, we have Bryan Adams with the seminal 'Heaven'. I am listening to it as I type. Ahhhhh, I am finding it hard to believe we're in heaven. So am I Bryan! I absolutely adore Reckless. It's just a great 80s album and it's easy to forget that Bryan Adams was actually really good once. I remember this coming out and playing it non-stop.  'Summer of 69' - what a song.

Bryan of course will always be best known for the Robin Hood song (which I admit to quite liking - told you I liked them cheesy) but this is his masterpiece for me. Covered endlessly but never bettered.

I suggest you all go and listen to it now and remind yourself how good it is. Here is the link.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Opening credits - Dallas

The time has come my friends to talk about Dallas. Perhaps the show that sums up the 80s. Y'all know how much I loved Dynasty but Dallas really was where it was at.

Wednesday nights, BBC1, 8pm (followed by Points of View) and you'd find me glued to the television for most of the 80s. Woe betide anyone that spoke for the next fifty minutes. By god, it was fantastic. Some of the best soap characters ever: Tragic Sue Ellen Ewing and her drink problem and callous husband, Pam Ewing and her beseeching eyes, Bobby Ewing (yes, I cried when he died, let's just get that out in the open here and now - it was sad, ok?), Miss Ellie and her long suffering sighs and of course... JR Ewing. Without Larry Hagman there was no Dallas. He was the finest villain and quite often, you did feel a bit sorry for him. Fabulous.

I learnt a great deal from Dallas: never expect anything to go right at the Oil Baron's Ball, you can make business deals while swinging round on a chair and sipping a drink, Chinese food is the best takeaway food (thank you Cliff Barnes) and a red convertible Mercedez is the car every woman should own.

Truth be told, it never recovered from the 'it was all a dream' line where they just obliterated a whole series. Yes, I was glad Bobby was back but it was a bitter-sweet happiness as the show took a nose dive in quality. However, the first five seasons or so of Dallas were fantastic. You can watch them now and still be hooked. The 'Who Shot JR?' storyline was brilliantly done. In the days before the internet, this was really much of what we talked about that summer while we waited eagerly for it to return.

All this talk of Dallas coming back with the original cast. Yes, I will watch it but I can't believe it will be any good. The beauty of Dallas was the fact it was the 80s and greed was good, big hats were cool and everyone had glossy hair and was young.  I mean really, how is Larry Hagman still alive?

Here are the credits - contender for best credits of the 80s. Enjoy.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Die Hard

Some films need no introduction, Die Hard is one of them. The film that transformed Bruce Willis into an action hero, made us love Alan Rickman as the baddie and simply rocked harder than any other action film ever made.

I love Die Hard. I mean, really, truly love it. I judge people on whether or not they like Die Hard. I find people who don't, or worse are lukewarm about it, just baffling. What can you find in this film not to love? It's beautifully set up, there isn't a spare scene in it, Brucie is fantastic and it closes to one of the best Christmas songs ever. It is my definitive Christmas movie and this year I watched it on Christmas Day and it didn't disappoint. Let's face it, it never disappoints. I spent a very enjoyable half an hour discussing the wonder of Die Hard with some friends over dinner. Don't you just love having friends who consider this a useful way to spend time?

It has some fabulous lines, most of them are Bruce's of course:

"Nine million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet smaller than my sister's."
"Let's see you take this under advisement, jerkweed!"
"Welcome to the party, pal"
"All things being equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia"
"Who's driving this car? Stevie Wonder?"
"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho" (this is my favourite - written on the dead body)
"Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs"

Just typing them out is making me giggle. This was an action movie with a sense of humour. Low cost on costume design I would imagine since Bruce wears the iconic vest and pants throughout the whole movie although I guess all the designer suits the others are in might have pushed up the budget.

It was made in 1988 and I think it's as fresh now as it was then. It could be released today and, except for Holly's hair, you'd think it was made a month ago. That and the fact that nobody has a mobile phone to call the police.

My only weak spot in the film is Karl coming back from being well and truly hanged. I know it gives our lovable cop the chance to blow him away and prove he is a real man and so on but it is ridiculous.

Final thing I love about it; it has Paul Gleason in it, the teacher from The Breakfast Club. Icing. On. The. Cake.

Here is the trailer which you'd be pretty annoyed seeing if you hadn't seen the film since it gives pretty much everything away. But I know all my readers have immaculate taste and have seen this gem. Enjoy!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Opening credits - The Love Boat

I simply had to share this with you. The opening credits to The Love Boat. Have you ever seen anything so hilarious? I've just spent about 10 minutes giggling. I think it's the 'bartender' that kills me.

Oh, the happy days of The Love Boat. What a show! And Jack Jones singing the theme. Seriously, what more could you want?

Drew Barrymore

There are some people that no matter what films they make, you will watch them. Drew Barrymore is such an actress for me. She is my definition of a proper movie star because I think any film she is in is better because of her.

Drew has made rom coms a speciality which is all very well but I do think she is better than simply starring in a rom com with Justin Long. Drew first burst onto our screens in ET as Gertie and she was adorable. ET is one of my favourite films, and yes, I realise I sound like Dawson Leary but really, who doesn't love ET?

Drew made the fabulous Charlie's Angels (we won't dwell on the sequel) and produced that as well demonstrating that she is more than just a child star who overcame her addictions.

One of my favourite Drew films is The Wedding Singer. A film with Drew, about the 80s and starring Adam Sandler! It's like the holy grail. If you've not seen this mini masterpiece, you've not lived.

I watched Going the Distance on a flight last week and although it's not exactly a Drew classic, it's still eminently watchable because of her. She just has a very natural comedic presence and can say filthy lines innocently. Her line about oral sex had me snorting with laughter on the plane.

I think my all-time favourite Drew film is Music & Lyrics (after ET obviously but ET isn't really her film). Although this is a shameless attempt to recreate the success of The Wedding Singer with the 80s throwback, it really is funny. Say what you like about Hugh Grant but nobody can deliver a line quite like him.

I leave you with a scene from The Wedding Singer featrung Billy Idol. Awesome.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Opening credits - Little House on the Prairie

Some shows transport you back to weekend television as a kid and Little House on the Prairie is definitely one of them. A friend of mine reminded me of this last night and it's an obvious contender for my Opening Credits spot. It has a wagon in it for goodness sake. Early LHOTP was great, later on it became sentimental and pretty much unwatchable but I still remember the episode when Mary went blind. Blind? I couldn't believe it!

Michael Landon was lovely in this as Pa Ingalls. I am sighing nostalgically just thinking about it. A fantastic theme and opening credits with the three girls running down, well, the prairie. Excuse me while I go and plait my hair.

Friday Night Lights

Today is a sad day my friends. Because tonight is the final night I will sit down to watch a new episode of Friday Night Lights. The final episode aired* last night in the US and thanks to the wonders of technology, I shall be watching it just 24 hours later.

My sister is one of the coolest people you'll ever meet and she has many great qualities but none top her television recommendations. She introduced me to Gilmore Girls, she was the one I watched Dynasty with, we went to the cinema together to watch Ferris and Top Gun and her finest hour was asking me if I was watching Friday Night Lights. The answer was no but it was soon rectified and I shall be eternally grateful to her.

If you've not watched this fine show, you really are missing out. Yes, it's about American football and no, I couldn't care less about American football (or any football for that matter). Yes, it's set in a small town in Texas where they all go to church and no, I am not interested in small towns in Texas and am allergic to religion. Nonetheless, it is compelling television. There is something about the way it is filmed that you actually feel you are there with them in Dillon, Texas and, here's the kicker, you are very happy to be there with them!

The story is about the coach of the football team and his wife (a perfect tv mom) - they are the constant throughout the five seasons. You meet the kids on the team and their various trials and tribulations. I'm not going to lie to you, a large part of the appeal lies in the character of Tim Riggins - a major TV crush. But even if Tim wasn't in this, I'd watch it avidly. It's simply wonderful.

I shall be very sad tonight. If you read Alan Sepinwall, you'll see he is practically inconsolable about the end of this series. It's that good. Everyone I have recommended it to loves it. By the way, give it a chance, it takes a few episodes to warm up properly.  Yes, it fits into teen TV but it also just fits into mighty fine TV that appeals to everyone. I plan to go back to season 1 and start again once tonight is over.

Below is a promo for the series set to Devil Town - it gives you a feel for the show.

*Not strictly true, it's an arrangement I don't understand where it's not actually on TV. Fortunately I am married to someone who understands all this.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Together in Electric Dreams

There are some songs that are timeless despite a heavy use of synthesiser and Together In Electric Dreams is such a song. This is one of the happiest songs I can think of. I love it so much, I seriously considered walking down the aisle to it when I got married but this idea was sadly vetoed by my husband. My mistake was mentioning it too soon, after four weeks of me throwing suggestions at him (including the Rocky theme) he gave up and said 'whatever makes you happy'.

I think Phil Oakley was a bit of a genius and am a fan of Human League (although I rarely listen to them now) but this will always be his finest hour. And Giorgio, what can I say? Look at that picture up there and tell me he isn't someone you want to be your friend?

Have a listen and be transported to a world where happy thoughts reign. We'll always be together...

Dirty Dancing

Continuing my week-long love affair with the 50s, I move into the 60s and one of The Best Films Ever Made. Like Ever. Dirty Dancing.

Movie stars shuffle off this mortal coil regularly and it's always sad but sometimes one goes and it hits me right in the heart. River Phoenix was one and Patrick Swayze is another. I am very sad he is no longer with us. This post is a few days late really as it's a tribute to my mother who died a year ago last monday. Dirty Dancing was her favourite film. Like Ever. So much so that she said she was Baby and wouldn't countenance the notion that anyone else may lay claim to that title. No, she was Baby and everyone else could go hang.

Dirty Dancing is a film that pretty much all women have a soft spot for. I've never met a female of the species who doesn't harbour a passion for it. Everything about it is perfection. From the beautiful Carolina setting to the 60s soundtrack to Jennifer Grey as Baby and Mr Swayze as Johnny. The dancing in it truly fabulous and I can watch the progression of Baby's dancing endlessly from her nervousness and stepping on toes to her final triumphant performance.

This is another film with some wonderful lines.  Let's look at some of them:

"Go back your playpen Baby"
"Spaghetti arms"
"My god, it's cleopatra, I feel like such an asp"
"Where is my beige, iridescent lipstick?" (I love this - Baby's sister is great comic relief)
"Nobody puts Baby in the corner" (one of the best movie lines. Like Ever.)
"I carried a watermelon?!" (every time I laugh like a drain).

It's a film that seems effortless to make but you know isn't. The editing is fantastic - there is no slow moment and it zips along at a rapid pace. Everyone in it is marvellous, I am especially found of Baby's mother (Kelly Bishop) who turns up 20 years later in Gilmore Girls and is great in that too.

Most of all this is a film that makes you want to dance and dance, meet your own Johnny, carry watermelons, wear pedal pushers and be Baby. This is my favourite scene in the whole film but I am not allowed to embed it. I'm not allowed to embed any scenes from the film. Oh well, let's have another picture of Patrick then. RIP Mr Swayze and RIP my mum, she was Baby you know.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Opening credits - Happy Days

It's a blah day in February and so thoughts turn to happier days. In fact my thoughts turn to Happy Days. After my Grease post yesterday and viewing of Jersey Boys on Broadway last week, I am having a 50s moment.

How I loved Happy Days. It was so innocent and well, happy. Who didn't love The Fonz? And Richie Cunningham? We wanted to hang out with them all and eat ice cream sundaes.

I could watch reruns of Happy Days for several hours without getting bored. It was cheesy and silly but it was comforting too.

And what an opening song. Watch it and try not to smile. Bet you can't.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


If there is one film that sums up being a perennial teenager, it is surely Grease. A film of pure joy and sheer wonder. One that I never, ever tire of watching. I saw this film when it came out in 1978 and it was the first film I'd watched where I immediately wanted to watch it again. I was seven. I went to stay with my nan in London and begged her to take me to see it again so she did (god rest her soul) and that was the last time she went to the cinema (she died in 1990). I think it was a bit much for her. She was horrified by some of the lines: "Where are you going? To flog your log?" and the sex in the back of the car. But ask any kid who saw this and nobody remembers that. They remember the songs. And what songs. I adore them all especially the Frankie Valli title song.

John Travolta is probably my favourite actor. I try and ignore his crazy Scientologist ways and just think of him in this - all cuteness and dimples and his dancing. Nobody can tear up a dancefloor like John. Him and Olivia are magical together. Of course my favourite character is Rizzo. I am sure she is every girl's favourite. She has the best wardrobe, the best lines and is playing to perfection by Stockard. I'll watch anything Stockard is in based on her performance in this. She was 32 or 33 when she played this part. Everyone in this was too old for the part but it doesn't matter one bit, you still believe in them all.

It's a musical masterpiece and it's such fun. I can't think of any other musical that is as funny as Grease. The 50s retro setting is fabulous - it makes you want to go to an American high school and have a boy carry your books for you. My favourite scene is the dance scene where Cha Cha steals Danny away and they win the trophy. My sister and I call this scene 'the onion' because everytime we watch it, we see something new. If you don't know what I mean, you are not watching it closely enough.

I can't find that clip on YouTube so I shall leave you with the song that makes you ache for summer and smile like a loon.

Grease is the word. Enjoy.

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