Mini Reviews: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Iron Man”

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)  – Dir. Amy Heckerling.  With Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ray Walston.

Believe it or not, I had never seen “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” before a week ago.  The film pleasantly surprised me.  I thought it was a nice time capsule movie.  It was vintage 80s.  I am actually quiet surprised that it’s from 1982, it feels newer, it doesn’t feel so dated.  It had a great soundtrack in it including one of my favorite songs “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars.  I finally saw the infamous scene with Phobe Cates getting out the pool, removing her top.  I remember watching the TV show “I Love the 80s” hearing the guys talk about it, or hearing my older friends talk about how they used to watch it, over and over again.  The film was witty and had well written dialogue.  The film feels well paced.  It has your cliche teen humor in it.  It’s got nudity, drug references, and snappy lines.  The scene with Judge Reinhold washing the mirror in the bathroom of the fast food joint, just staring at himself in disgust made me laugh so hard I was crying.  Ray Walston delivered as usual, but I was surprisingly impressed with Penn.  I have always thought Penn was a great, great actor but it was really fun seeing him in a role like this, even though it was one of his first.  The film left me wanting more Penn, but then again, I really do think that from time to time, less is more.  But I still can’t help but wonder, dude…where is Jeff Spicoli now?

Review: 7/10.

“Iron Man” (2008) Dir. Jon Favearu.  With Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges.

This was the first superhero film since “Batman Begins”, that was made with the same quality that they should be.  It came out the same year as “The Dark Knight” and was overshadowed by it, but “The Dark Knight” was a superior film in all every way.  RDJ gives nothing more then a stellar performance because in a sense, RDJ is Tony Stark.  The rich playboy that dates beautiful women, but has an emptiness inside of him.  The arrogance of Tony Stark is so brilliantly pulled off by Downey Jr.  I’m not really that big of a fan of Paltrow, but she’s pretty good as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts.  Terrence Howard doesn’t really bring a whole lot to the role of Stark’s friend Col. James Rhodes.  I actually think replacing Howard with Don Cheadle for the sequel was a good choice.  I’m looking forward to Cheadle’s performance since he’s an actor that can display more range, and more capability.  And what can I say about Jeff Bridges that I already haven’t said?  That he’s wonderful.  He’s amazing.  He’s brilliant.  He’s Jeff fucking Bridges!  The action sequences don’t feel jarred or forced, they flow very well, and as we watch a CGI man fly around the sky, Faverau show’s us Stark’s face inside the helmet of Iron Man, to give it a personal feel, a connection with the audience.  That was very smart, and probably one of my favorite aspects of the film.  The only problem I have with the film is the ending battle scene is anticlimactic.  It isn’t what it should have been.  There are over ten shots of RDJ’s face inside of the Iron Man suit, but only three of Bridges’ inside the Iron Mongeror suit.  There isn’t as much of emotional connection that there should be in the end battle scene.  It’s a huge moment of the film, it’s Stark fighting his mentor, his surrogate father to the death.  They dehumanize Bridges’ character, maybe they did that since everyone loves themselves a little Jeff Bridges.

The DVD Extras are your typical behind the scenes shorts that are boring and don’t show you anything insightful, but there are two excellent extras.  The first is Robert Downey Jr’s screen test for the role of Tony Stark and it is just so wonderful.  It’s very cool to see an actor screen testing for a role, instead of it just getting handed to them.  The other special feature that is just brilliant; it’s a rehearsal with Faverau, Bridges and RDJ.  It’s the scene where Bridges tells RDJ his real intentions and what he plans to do.  It’s very cool to see these two masterful actors work and play off each other.  They’re dropping F-bombs at each other, Bridges actually slaps RDJ.  It’s very cool to see actors perform in such a raw form.  It truly is art.

Review: 8/10.


Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

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