Cinema Saturday, 1/15/22

The Hitcher

Year: 1986
Runtime: 1h 37m
Rated: R

Director: Robert Harmon

Writers: Eric Red

Stars: Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Initial: A rewatch for me, but I’ve probably only watched The Hitcher once, over 30 years ago.

Production Notes: The Hitcher caught a lot of flack for being a violent movie. Surprisingly, most of the violence takes place off-screen and most of the disturbing aftermath is never shown.

What Did I Think:
Young horror movie fan Katherine was pretty impressed with this movie, but after 30 years I couldn’t entirely remember why.

Spoilers Ahead:
There are two stand-out features of The Hitcher. One: John Ryder, Rutger Hauer’s character, is never given any motivation for what he does. He’s just a psycho, or maybe a semi-supernatural force of nature. My understanding is that the 2007 remake has him being slighted by the people who later pick him up. That’s disappointing because the story works best when Ryder is a mystery. Two: The movie is not precious about its characters. If you watch enough horror movies, especially ones of a certain era, you can predict that the annoying protagonist is going to die. There are two protagonists in this movie, neither is annoying . . .

Non-Spoilers:
Unfortunately, the nightmarish scenario of being hunted/haunted by a random charismatic stranger is undercut by The Hitcher devolving into a 80s action movie. There are explosions. There are cars that seemingly ramp-jump off each other. A helicopter is shot from the sky by a handgun. Oh, 80s.


The Goonies

Year: 1985
Runtime: 1h 54m
Rated: PG

Director: Richard Donner

Writers: Chris Columbus, Steven Spielberg

Stars: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman

Initial: A lot of people my age really like this movie. I had never seen it.

Production Notes: Also out in 1985, Richard Donner directed Ladyhawke and Chris Columbus wrote Young Sherlock Holmes. Both are movies I like so much more than The Goonies.

What Did I Think:
WHY IS EVERYONE YELLING??? So much yelling in this movie. I’m not fond of kid protagonists, which is probably why I never got around to watching The Goonies earlier in my life, like when I was around the age of the characters. And I might have a different opinion of this movie if I hadn’t watched Young Sherlock Holmes, Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Arc (1981), or Columbus’s Home Alone (1990) before I watched The Goonies. Many movies before and after it do what it does, but better (see also, The Lost Boys (1987), Stand By Me (1986), The ‘Burbs (1989)). Still, there are a couple of good moments, mostly courtesy Corey Feldman.


Boogie Nights

Year: 1997
Runtime: 2h 35m
Rated: R

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Writers: Paul Thomas Anderson

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds

Initial: A well-regarded movie with a big cast that I hadn’t seen before.

What Did I Think:
Boogie Nights is a movie. There are characters. Things happen. It’s well-made. The actors do a wonderful job. I like the setting of the 70s. I enjoyed the extended cast of actors I wasn’t expecting, like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ricky Jay. I have no problem with the subject matter; the porn industry is something I know little about, so that’s a plus. The odd theme of found family (even dysfunctional found family) is almost heartwarming. Obviously, some credit has to go to Paul Thomas Anderson for all of this. I’m not eve mad that I’ve had “Sister Christian” stuck in my head since I saw this movie on Wednesday. But, honestly, Boogie Nights is just kind of there. I probably wouldn’t turn it off if it was the only thing on, but I can’t imagine ever going out my way to watch it a second time.

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