Michael Finnell

Michael Finnell

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Rock 'n' Roll High School Review


Good
The film legacy of The Beatles was A Hard Day's Night, and I guess the film legacy of The Ramones is this, Rock 'n' Roll High School, the 1979 oddity about an oppressive high school (Vince Lombardi High, where "winning is better than losing") and its most exuberant student, Riff Randell (P.J. Soles), who only wants to share her love of The Ramones with her fellow students.

The film's hijinks largely follow your typical school's-out-for-summer comedy. There's hazing, there's rebellion, there's sex, there's quirky supporting characters (including Clint Howard, who has an "office" situated in a bathroom stall), and there's loud music. But everything's just a bit off with Rock 'n' Roll High School, starting with its star, Soles, who at 29 years old was playing what had to be the oldest senior on record. Soles, who would later become known best (arguably) for playing one of the military police officers in Stripes, is believable as a Ramones fan, though her haircut needs some attention if she wants to be a serious punk rocker.

Continue reading: Rock 'n' Roll High School Review

Rock 'n' Roll High School Review


Good
The film legacy of The Beatles was A Hard Day's Night, and I guess the film legacy of The Ramones is this, Rock 'n' Roll High School, the 1979 oddity about an oppressive high school (Vince Lombardi High, where "winning is better than losing") and its most exuberant student, Riff Randell (P.J. Soles), who only wants to share her love of The Ramones with her fellow students.

The film's hijinks largely follow your typical school's-out-for-summer comedy. There's hazing, there's rebellion, there's sex, there's quirky supporting characters (including Clint Howard, who has an "office" situated in a bathroom stall), and there's loud music. But everything's just a bit off with Rock 'n' Roll High School, starting with its star, Soles, who at 29 years old was playing what had to be the oldest senior on record. Soles, who would later become known best (arguably) for playing one of the military police officers in Stripes, is believable as a Ramones fan, though her haircut needs some attention if she wants to be a serious punk rocker.

Continue reading: Rock 'n' Roll High School Review

Small Soldiers Review


OK
Joe Dante's action story, about military-chip-endowed toys that wreak havoc on the neighborhood, is well-intentioned, and with five writers it ought to be. But while Dante would love to recapture the magic of Gremlins, he ends up capturing only the disappointment of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Phil Hartman's final movie.

The Howling Review


Good
Werewolves are the least-regarded of all the classic monsters. While vampires have all the sex appeal and mummies have already had their blockbuster remake, werewolves have a tendency to seem low-rent and shaggy; basically like really angry dogs. 1981 changed all that with a brief two-film comeback for the hairy beasts: John Landis's An American Werewolf in London and Joe Dante's The Howling. Superior both in terms of its story and sense of humor, The Howling shares American Werewolf's post-modern cheekiness but knows when to rein it in and let the wolves howl.

Starting in a welter of televised static, the movie's setup is straight from a standard thriller: TV anchorwoman Karen White (Dee Wallace, one year before E.T.) is taking part in a police sting. She's been receiving letters from a man claiming to be the brutal serial killer currently terrorizing L.A., and as part of the sting, has agreed to meet him. After a cop mix-up and a horrific encounter between Karen and the killer in a peepshow booth, the killer is shot dead. Karen keeps having bad dreams, however, prompting her psychologist, Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), to send her up the coast to convalesce at The Colony, a retreat where his teachings - vague mumbo-jumbo about harmonizing the relationship between one's animal and civilized selves and something called "The Gift" - are put into practice. Then she starts hearing all that howling in the woods around her cabin...

Continue reading: The Howling Review

Newsies Review


Weak
"Headlines don't sell papes. Newsies sell papes."

Well, now telemarketers sell papes, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to see a movie about that. Especially if they were singing all the time. But back in 1899, when Joseph Pulitzer (played by Robert Duvall) and William Randolph Hearst raised newspaper prices, that meant the newsies had to pay more for their copies, and they couldn't pass that along to the consumer. So the newsies organized a union and went on strike. And the strike failed.

Continue reading: Newsies Review

Michael Finnell

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