Saturday, 29 July 2017

Some Thoughts on the Future of the Terminator Franchise

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Spoilers for The Terminator series


When James Cameron directed The Terminator back in 1984, it was only his second film- after Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981), and it ultimately changed his entire career, giving him the clout and respect to eventually direct the sequel to Alien- Aliens. He would eventually return to the Terminator universe with Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), a film that revolutionized special effects. And of course, he directed the two box office champs, Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009), the latter of which was also revolutionary in regards to its special effects. 

While Cameron is still very much focused on doing more Avatar films, this week he brought up the possibility of doing more Terminator films. Apparently he and producer David Ellison- who owns the rights to the franchise- have had discussions about a possible three movie story-line. Cameron hasn't been involved with the three previous Terminator films- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator: Genisys (2015) Cameron says was supportive of the Arnold Schwarzenegger led 3rd and 5th films- since him and Schwarzenegger have remained friends throughout the years- but adds they didn't work for him, "for various reasons."    

For me I believe it's been difficult to make further Terminator films post the second film, arguably even the first film. This is because everything that occurs is on a loop- Kyle Reese will always be John Connor's father, Skynet can only ever be created because the Terminator came back. But coming back to T2, that's the saga's end. Sarah Connor and John prevented Judgement Day, Miles Dyson is dead. There was even an alternate ending set in the altered future where John had become a senator. In T3 all that was undone- Judgement Day is unavoidable. It was a bold way to end the film but the rest of the film- while decent- felt to similar to the previous films. Salvation was set in the future only briefly glimpsed in the first two films. It had potential but didn't capture the oppressive dread of that world. I admired the ideas explored in Genisys but it was too convoluted and fell in to the trap of having the plot revolve around preventing Judgement Day again.

The Terminator was never really designed to set up a franchise. As I mentioned before, the first film is a closed loop. And since time travel is a major factor in the franchise, things keep getting more confusing with each new film. If Cameron wants to direct or produce further Terminator films I think the best approach is to start with a new continuity. It makes things cleaner and less confusing. 

I would also suggest not focusing on Sarah or John; create new human characters we can get invested in. I think you can still keep the basic premise: a machine comes back to kill a human and prevent the machines' defeat in the future. Bob "MovieBob" Chipman proposed ignoring the post-T2 films; the film would be set in a post-labour future where machines haven't turned against us. However, the machines have made certain people obsolete since they're not need for labour anymore. Someone would go back to prevent this, targeting Dyson's now grown daughter who has a prototype terminator who can protect her. Chipman also recommended going for a smaller scale, with which I strongly agree. I like the idea of the franchise going back its horror/sci-fi roots rather than attempting to repeat T2 again.

I don't know if Cameron will ever get around to doing these hypothetical Terminator films or when we'll see another film in the franchise. I'm always open-minded about reinventing a franchise- look at the new Planet of the Apes films. Until then- well, we'll always have the first two films. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Some Thoughts on the Latest Remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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When it was announced this past week that Warner Bros. will be producing another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the fourth to date) it reminded me none of these remakes are sequels to Don Siegel's 1956 original (all these films are based on Jack Finney's 1955 novel Body Snatchers) or Philip Kaufman's 1978 version. This makes this series of films singular in the annals of horror. However, I find it apt there's never been an Body Snatchers sequel. There's something absolute about its premise, making it difficult to move beyond the initial concept- aliens who can replicate human bodies and plan to take over the planet. 

Whenever this story is retold the body snatchers are always a metaphor for the fears of the time, whether it be the red scare and McCarthyism or post-Watergate paranoia; every era offers an analogy. There's also something timelessly terrifying about this premise; You the know the person you love isn't the same but the changes are subtle, which is more unsettling. What if we had our humanity completely taken away? For me, Kaufman's film is one of the bleakest horror films ever made. It's ending captures has a hopeless dread that reverberates to this day.

I haven't seen the last remake- 2007's The Invasion, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel- so I can't comment on that film but I admire how each of these films' directors have a distinct take on this story. When Abel Ferrara did his version in 1993, it was set on an army base rather than in small town or city- the previous versions' settings. The new version will be written by David Leslie Johnson, who wrote The Conjuring 2. I liked that film despite it being slightly overlong. Producer John Davis (1987's Predator) is also on board. I'm curious to see who will direct. I'd like to see Duncan Jones get a shot, whose Moon and Source Code are two of the better sci-fi films of the last decade. I'd like to see what Patty Jenkins could do with the material; I think Wonder Woman is among the strongest recent superhero films both in theme and character. Jenkins can absolutely make an intelligent and emotional genre film.

So, what do you think of another Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake? And who would you like to direct?

 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

"Was he slow?" Baby Driver

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Warning: Major Spoilers Follow

Edgar Wright is someone who's in love with his job as a filmmaker, which has shown in every film he's made thus far. This love affair continues with his latest film Baby Driver. The film's story involves familiar genre archetypes: a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who wants to quit the life of crime, the crime boss (Kevin Spacey) who reels him in for another job, the waitress with whom our hero wants to run away (Lily James) and the assortment of criminals along for the ride (Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jamie Foxx). It's an old song but performed with genuine style, charm and heart.

Speaking of songs, Baby Driver can be best described as a film noir musical. This is because our hero-Baby- listens to music while heists are being pulled off and when he's out-driving the police. He also records conversations and makes songs out of them. The film as an extension of Baby's mindset; Wright shot and edited the action sequences to the music, creating a unique synthesis of sound and visuals that's organic to the film's universe. 

We learn Baby listens to music constantly due to a childhood car accident which left with him a constant humming in his right ear. The same accident also killed both his musician mother (Sky Ferreira) and father (Lance Palmer). When he was still a kid, Baby stole from Spacey's Doc. Doc was so impressed that he's used Baby for every heist. Baby is in debt to Doc and is due to retire after one more heist. Like Ryan Gosling's unnamed character in Drive Baby is great at his job but still strikes others as odd. Griff (Jon Bernthal) and Foxx's Bats are antagonistic towards him. However, due to his youth several of the criminals treat him as a surrogate son or little brother. 

Hamm and Gonzalez's Bonnie and Clyde married couple Buddy and Darling treat him with a kind of bemusement- not quite affection but a certain level of respect. Baby has a complicated relationship with Doc, who is part extorter/part father figure to Baby. Spacey is one of the best actors at doing quiet menace while being darkly funny. When he brings Baby back in to the fold after debts had supposedly been settled Doc casually remarks that he could cripple Baby and kill everyone he loves if Baby doesn't keep working for him; it's this scene where Baby realizes how much he's still in Doc's grip- and desperately needs a way out. 
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While James Debora and the whole love story between her and Baby is somewhat underwritten, she and Elgort's chemistry makes the relationship very pleasurable to watch unfold. Wright understands that there's a inherent romanticism inherent in noir- wanting to drive away with a beautiful woman, turning your back on the world of violence and greed- and he portrays the romance in an idealized fashion. The movie believes two people can be brought together by music. I get the impression that Baby sees something of his mother in Debora- a memory of a happier time when he felt protected. Debora and Darling are notably the two major female characters in the film and they are deliberately contrasted. Darling isn't quite a femme fatale but she's certainly a more dangerous and sexual figure than Debora- who projects a virginal innocence. And while Gonzalez is younger than James, Darling does come across as older and seasoned woman.

While Baby may see his mother in Debora, fatherhood an important aspect of this film. I mentioned that Doc is a twisted version of a father figure; but the man Baby views as a father in the film is foster father, Joe (C.J. Jones), who is deaf and whom Baby looks after, being a father of sorts to Joe. This relationship is perhaps the most touching in the film and helps make Baby a more sympathetic character. 

While the movie is using well-worn genre tropes, it also manages to subvert expectations- particularly regarding certain characters. Bats is killed before the third act even though he was being built up as possibly the major antagonist of the film. It's actually Buddy who becomes the villain in the finale of the film. We understand Buddy's motivations- Darling is killed by the police after Baby intentionally ruining the heist. We see that Buddy and  Darling's love was as or even more genuine than Baby and Debora's. Unlike other noir heroes- Baby lives at the end of the film- but the film doesn't escape tragedy if you look at the film from Buddy's point of view. This makes ending's romanticized reunion of Baby and Debora- after Baby gets out of prison- ironic considering the fact Baby is partly responsible the death of a man's wife.

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Hamm- who became famous for his portrayal of Don Draper on the TV show Mad Men- has in his film roles avoided Draper-esque characters. Instead he's played the good-looking doofus (Bridesmaids), rugged detective (The Town), and a doctor who specializes in lobotomies (Sucker Punch). Hamm's smooth grizzled-ness makes Buddy a distinct personality and a character who could likely carry his own movie.

I do want to talk about Elgort's casting in the role of Baby. Elgort first came to audiences' attention with his role in the teen romance The Fault in Our Stars alongside Shailene Woodley, whom he also co-starred with in the Divergent franchise. His casting as a slick getaway driver would appear to be a case of miscasting. But it ends up working due to how Elgort's image as an actor in Young Adult-orientated films offers a humorous contrast to the noir archetype he's playing; at the same Elgort's offbeat stoicism makes him believable as this odd but cool getaway driver. The opening scene establishes the relationship between Baby and his music, how he grooves to it even as a dangerous heist is occurring. 

I don't know where I'd rank Baby Driver in the Wright Pantheon, particularly since I still need to re-watch most of his work- but it clearly shows a director high on the joy of making movies and pushing himself as an artist, which makes what he'll do next always very exciting. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Essential Films: Looking back on "Star Wars" 40 Years Later

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A Series of Writings on Films that I feel are essential viewings for film lovers, coupled with films that are personal to me

Spoilers Below

In May of 1977, pop culture and cinema was forever changed by the release of director George Lucas' Star Wars. Before it was Episode IV, before it was A New Hope, before people argued about who shot first- it was just that: Star Wars, as pure and simple as the story which it told. Star Wars- and the subsequent episodes of the Original Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi- have become so ingrained in the popular imagination, so influential and obsessed over, that's it hard to look at it as just a movie. Like the stories of Superman and Batman- and even the work of J.R.R Tolkien, it's become something like a modern myth, almost a religion. This isn't to say Star Wars is above criticism or that it can't be analysed; just that it's so much bigger than just a really popular movie. 

Star Wars is  one of the biggest franchises in history but when Lucas was making the original film there was no guarantee it would be a success. We've become so accustomed the world of Star Wars but all this stuff about Jedi, the Force, Wookiees, and a big guy in a black suit with a breathing problem would have struck the people involved in the film's production as weird. Lucas' vision was of the pulpy/fairy tale sort rather than the cerebral nature of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 or the original Star Trek series. I don't even think 20th Century Fox had much faith in the film. Harrison Ford had worked with Lucas on Lucas' sophomore feature American Graffiti and would become a star with his performance as Han Solo. He's notorious for telling Lucas that the dialogue could be written but couldn't be spoken. In many ways I would argue Star Wars is the most mainstream and successful cult movie of all time.
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In crafting the story for Star Wars, Lucas drew inspiration from various genres- samurai film, fantasy, pulp sci-fi, swashbuckling adventure, war epic, western, and coming of age/hero's journey tale. In regards to the specific films which influenced Lucas, Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film Hidden Fortress inspired Star Wars' narrative structure. Lucas begins the film with the droids C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Kurosawa tells the story of his film from the perspective of two peasants who accompany a general and a princess across enemy lines. Fritz Lang's groundbreaking 1927 film Metropolis inspired the design of C-3P0. The homestead burning on Tatooine comes from a similar scene is John Ford's The Searchers (1956). Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will (1935) was the basis for the medal ceremony which closes the film. 

What's impressive is how Lucas blends diverse genre tropes in to a cohesive whole where the archetypes and iconography compliment each other. The result is a film which feels familiar yet boldly new. I think a big reason for Star Wars' success is how its story already felt old-fashioned back in 1977- and accessible to general audiences- while expanding their idea of what could be accomplished cinematically. More on that later.


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When talking about genre archetypes in relation to Star Wars, the character that stands out most to me is Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Ben represents both a samurai and an old wizard- like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. He begins to mentor Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) while still carrying the weight of his failure with his last apprentice, Darth Vader; Vader turned to the dark side and helped the Empire eliminate the Jedi Order. I feel Guinness is underrated in the part- maybe due to the fact we don't think of it as a performance, to many he just is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Guinness convinces me he is this old Jedi master, the Force exists and there was once Jedi Knights who protected the galaxy for thousands of years. And when Luke mentions the Clone Wars- which became a huge part of Star Wars media- it provides a sense of history to this universe. 

Along with Guinness, Peter Cushing- who played Grand Moff Tarkin- was the other veteran actor with a major role in the film. Guinness represents the mythological side of this universe while Cushing is the face of the totalitarian and fascist Empire. I would argue he's the true villain of this film, not Vader. Tarkin orders Princess Leia's (Carrie Fisher) home planet of Alderaan destroyed by the Death Star just to prove a point. What's great about Cushing's performance is he doesn't over play Tarkin's evilness, which makes Tarkin's actions and demeanour all the more believable and unsettling.

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But when it comes to villainy in the Star Wars saga, people will always think about Vader. If Vader isn't the greatest screen villain of all time then he's certainly up there. Even in the original film, before it's revealed he is Luke's father, Vader is a commanding and compelling presence. Vader represents the bygone time of the Jedi; He is more connected to the mystic side of the universe rather than the technical. He's contrasted with the technological and brute-force based Empire. During a meeting about the Death Star with the Imperials Vader states the station's power is meaningless next to the Force. General Motti (Richard LeParmentier) tells Vader not to attempt intimidation with his "sorcerer's ways." Motti sees Vader as something of a relic- calling the Force an "ancient religion." Vader displays his power by choking Motti via-the Force. Tarkin orders Vader to stop, further emphasising he's in charge, not Vader. Later Tarkin disregards Vader's sensing of Obi-Wan aboard the Death Star. Vader is an outsider among the Imperials, though we later learn the Emperor is a Sith like Vader.
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Luke, Han and Leia come from different backgrounds. Luke is the farm boy who's never been off Tatooine, Han is the smuggler who never stays in one place, and Leia is a princess who's the only one of the three who has her mind on defeating the Empire. The film is largely about these three people coming together for a single purpose. It's part of why the series is so enduring- it believes regardless of background people can work together and accomplish great things.

Luke longs for a better life, one of adventure and purpose. His uncle Owen (Phil Brown) doesn't allow him to leave because he needs Luke's help on the farm. Owen is also afraid Luke will follow in his father's footsteps and become a Jedi Knight (in the context of this film Luke's father Anakin was murdered), We understand Luke's frustration but we can also see Owen sincerely cares about Luke and is reasonable. The tragedy of Owen and Beru's (Shelagh Fraser) murder is Luke never got to reconcile with Owen. Moreover, now Luke has no choice but to leave Tatooine. Obi-Wan becomes a father figure to Luke. When Obi-Wan dies Luke truly has to grow up. Hamill was already in his mid-20s when he played 19 year old Luke but he conveys Luke's immaturity, genuine decency and infectious energy perfectly.

Leia isn't afraid of Vader nor Tarkin. She's confident but we see her fear and desperation when Tarkin forces her to disclose the location of the rebel base or he'll destroy Alderaan. Her confident and arrogant exterior slips away; we see how powerless she- and the whole idea of royalty-is in this situation. She's snobbish in how she treats Luke and Han but comforts Luke after Obi-Wan's death. Despite losing her planet she shows compassion to the man who rescued her. The late Fisher plays these different sides of Leia's personality with grace, making them all feel part of the same person.

Han is the scoundrel with the heart of gold. The key to Ford's performance is you believe he's really out for himself while at the same time you buy that he comes back to help the rebellion at the film's conclusion. Ford is arguably the closest thing we have to a modern day Humphrey Bogart. His performance is charming, sly, ruthless and funny. The scene where he's talking over the intercom display Ford's ability to convincingly play the tough guy who's occasionally ill-equipped in certain situations.
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I mentioned earlier that Star Wars expanded people's idea about what could be achieved cinematically. This is due to how groundbreaking and influential its visual effects (by John Dykstra and his team at ILM (Industrial Lights & Magic)) were. Star Wars is a film that embraces its goofy pulp sci-fi roots; while being more technically sophisticated then that sub-genre had been before  The opening shot of the Star Destroyer chasing the Tantive IV is still an incredible visual marvel. It automatically establishes the rebels as the underdogs and the Empire as oppressive and all-encompassing. Ben Burtt's sound design also deserves credit. The sound design of Star Wars is so iconic all you have to do is hear the sound of a TIE fighter and you know what you're listening to.

For me, Star Wars isn't quite Star Wars without John Williams' music. The fanfare- accompanying the title as it recedes in to space and the opening scrawl is romantic, epic, poignant and thrilling to this day. The force theme, which plays over Luke looking at the twin sunset, invokes longing and the hope for a better future. It became such an indelible combination of visual and sound that Lucas ended the Prequel Trilogy Owen and Beru looking at the twin suns.

In 40 years, I think this film- and the Original Trilogy as a whole- will still be classic. It's world and its characters feel timeless- appealing to multiple generations and people of different backgrounds. It inspires the imagination and has a purity to it that's often missing in the modern blockbuster landscape. So, what is your favourite aspect of the original film, and what does it mean to you? Comment below and let me know.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Some thoughts on Luke Skywalker and "The Last Jedi"




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Spoilers for The Force Awakens below

Darth Vader is my favourite Star Wars character but it's his son Luke Skywalker's story that for best epitomizes the mythic nature of the Star Wars saga. The original trilogy is about Luke's journey from a Tatootine farm-boy who doesn't know the legacy of his namesake to a Jedi who redeems his father and helps save the galaxy. When we get to The Force Awakens Luke has become a figure of legend. Rey believes he's just a myth. One can imagine that children in the post-Return of the Jedi galaxy have grown up with stories of Luke, Han Solo and Princess Leia. This is appropriate considering the fairy tale nature of the saga.



What intrigues me most about the The Last Jedi trailer is Luke saying the Jedi must come to an end. It appears that Luke is a more cynical character 30 years since Return of the Jedi's ending. I can't help but think of Luke telling Obi-Wan Kenobi he wanted to about the Force and become a Jedi like his father; and later, telling the Emperor he'll never turn to the dark side, that he is a Jedi, like his father before him. Now, what he once strove to become may not have any positive meaning for him anymore. 




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The ending of Return of Jedi left Luke as the person who would rebuild the Jedi Order, albeit likely different in certain ways from what became before. In The Force Awakens we know that Luke has attempted to train new Jedi but Ben Solo- Han's son and Luke's nephew- and the Knights of Ren killed Luke's pupils. This sent Luke in to exile like Obi-Wan and Yoda- and likely led to a new outlook on the relevancy and purpose of the Jedi, thinking beyond the dogma of both the Jedi and the Sith. With the Jedi being eliminated twice perhaps Luke is taking that as a sign from the Force. Maybe the galaxy would be better without dogmatic religions. What I'm curious about is that will affect the role of force users in the saga post this new trilogy. 

Also: Supreme Leader Snoke and Ben (now calling himself Kylo Ren) aren't Sith, so they themselves represent a different type of dark side user. However, Ren still worships his grandfather who was a Sith.

I'm also wondering what Luke is going to be teaching Rey specifically and how her arc will proceed People have theorized that she will go to the dark side, which would be a bold choice. I enjoyed The Force Awakens but I feel this film will explore new mythological territory in regards to the Star Wars universe; like The Empire Strikes Back, this middle chapter will deepen and redefine what came before, leading us in to the conclusion of this trilogy.

So, what are your theories on Luke's possible story in The Last Jedi. Comment below and let me know.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Some brief thoughts on Joss Whedon and Batgirl

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It was announced this recently that Joss Whedon was in talks to write and direct a Batgirl movie for DC/Warner Bros, presumably to be part of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe that began with Man of Steel. It's a major coup for DC/Warner Bros. Whedon helped make the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) what it is today, successfully bringing together its disparate heroes in the game-changing The Avengers. Having Whedon on-board the DCEU adds some good will considering the controversial reaction to their film output thus far.

Whedon's sensibilities do line up with writer Cameron Stewart's run on Batgirl several years ago, which was more lighthearted compared to Gail Simone's serious take on the character. Just imagine Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with Batgirl and I think you have something akin to the actual film.

When the DC universe was rebooted for the New 52, Simone re-imagined Barbara Gordon as having gained the ability to walk again. Barbara had being paralyzed by the Joker shooting her. This event occured in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. In the previous continuity, Barbara took on the role of Oracle, a computer expert working alongside the DC heroes. With the DCEU reportedly moving towards a lighter tone, a Whedon Batgirl wouldn't feel as out of place as it would immediately post Batman v. Superman.

Whedon's Batgirl film is said to be taking inspiration from the New 52 so the question is whether The Killing Joke will be part of Barbara's backstory. The Killing Joke is a controversial, with some considering it sexist and misogynistic. Critics of the story view Barbara's role in the story as essentially a plot device to psychologically torture her father Commissioner James Gordon. I believe there is a way to incorporate Barbara's paralysis in to the story without her being a plot-device, which is to have her in costume and in action when she is paralyzed. 


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Another important question is who will play Barbara. Many have suggested Emma Stone, who's fresh off her Oscar win for La La Land. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of Stone and feel Jane Levy- who's name has also been bandied about for the role- is actually a more versatile actress and deserves a star-making role of this caliber. British actress Imogen Poots is also another actress who always feels like she's on the cusp stardom. 

I'm looking forward to seeing more of the Bat-family as the DCEU progresses, particularly with Ben Affleck's Batman in BvS seemingly cut-off from everyone except Jeremy Irons' Alfred Pennyworth. So, let me know- is Whedon a good pick? And who do you want to play Batgirl in the DCEU? 



Monday, 20 February 2017

"If you're going to lead people, you have to have somewhere to go:" "Rumble Fish"


Warning: Spoilers for the film below

In 1983 director Francis Ford Coppola released two films based on the work of young adult novelist S.E. Hinton. These films were The Outsiders- released in March of that year- and Rumble Fish- released seven months later in October. The films were shot back-to-back in the same location and Coppola even used several of the same actors in both films, most notably Matt Dillon and Diane Lane. Dillon had a supporting role in The Outsiders and became the lead in Rumble Fish

When viewing Rumble Fish I gather Coppola didn't want to repeat himself and make The Outsiders again. The Outsiders is mostly straightforward in regards to its style but in Rumble Fish Coppola is experimenting with cinematic form and meshes the story's subject matter with a different ambience than what was expected from a 80s teen film. It's atmosphere is more film-noir than teenage coming of age drama. Others have also noted the influence of German Expressionism and the films of Orson Welles. This film divides me. I don't think it works as drama; it's narrative isn't satisfying- several plot and story strands do feel underdeveloped and without strong payoffs- but it's worth viewing as a turning point for Coppola; this film points forward toward his later 21st century work. 

Rusty James (Dillon) is told he has to fight Biff Wilcox, the leader of a rival gang. Rusty James' brother, the Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke) prior, had instigated a truce between the gangs just prior to his leaving without explanation; but Rusty James goes to fight Wilcox that night anyway. The Motorcycle Boy shows  up and Rusty James is wounded by Wilcox stabbing him with a shard of glass. The Motorcycle Boy ends the fight and takes Rusty James home to tend his wound.

The Motorcycle Boy is the most captivating and seductive character in the film, largely due to his mysterious nature. There's a James Dean quality to Rourke's performance, and it's no wonder Rourke was pegged as the next Brando/Pacino/De Niro. I get the impression that the Motorcycle Boy that Rusty James looks up to and wishes to emulate is the not the same man we see throughout the film. The Motorcycle Boy has matured and isn't interested in being in a gang or engaging in any wars. However, Officer Paterson (William Smith) still hates the Motorcycle Boy due to the kids idolozing him. The Motorcycle Boy is killed by Paterson while attempting the free the titular rumble fish from a pet store. It's only through the Motorcycle Boy's death that Rusty James can be free to his own man.


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Rusty James' relationship with Patty (Diane Lane) falls apart when Rusty James cheats on her with another girl. I wish Patty had more of a inner life but Lane does give Patty an angelic quality. She's the embodiment of every teenage boy's fantasy, which is visualized in Rusty James' day dream sequences where he sees her in lingerie on top of a classroom bookcase and at work. 

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For me, Stephen H. Burum's cinematography (this was Coppola's first film in black and white) invokes the 1950s, even while the film is set later in time. By providing the film the aura of a period piece rather than a contemporary drama, there's an almost nostalgic nature to the events, as if we're seeing them from the perspective of Rusty James looking back at this time in his life.

Rumble Fish is more of an impressionistic fever dream than a involving emotional experience. Still, as I mentioned before, the film is worth viewing to see what would personify Coppola's later career work; and as a piece of visual art, it's gorgeous.