80s dance flicks

January 17, 2008

We discovered a new (well, old but new to us) phenomenon last night, a little known movie genre that appears to have tired its best to catch hold in the 80s, with little impact. The film was “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and we’ve placed it in the 80s dance movies category. It wasn’t a musical, but it was saturated with sporadic dance sequences, one even involving well-choreographed punks crashing a debutante ball.

We Netflixed this movie because I had never gotten around to watching it before, even though it was released in 1985. Carlos and Itzul hadn’t even heard of it.

It stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt as the odd-couple friends who want to get on a TV dance show. I wasn’t prepared for how goofy it was, but it was still fun to watch.

The film brought to mind all the other 80s movies with dance as its central theme. Here’s a few that we came up with:


I guess there was some kind of dance revolution going on among 80s teens that I missed. Then again, I was still an adolescent when these movies came out. Maybe it’s like the “Bring it On,” “Step Up” or “You Got Served” films of recent years.


Mr. Brooks

June 24, 2007

Last night we headed to the drive-in. It was my first time watching a drive-in movie. Ever. We brought Diego, who was already sleepy, and he slept through almost all of the first movie, “Mr. Brooks.” Walla Walla is located just a few miles north of the Oregon border. The drive-in theater is in Oregon, on a stretch of highway heading into a city called Milton-Freewater. The drive-in is obviously dated: nothing frilly or glamorous about it. But there was something very cozy about sitting in our car, watching the sun fade and the stars come in, as the movie began. We took advantage of our moon roof and had it open the whole time. There was a calming wind blowing outside that kept shifting the clouds and surprised us with a cool breeze in the warm car.

This being our first drive-in experience as a family, we realized we should have probably cleaned the windshield before heading out. We were out of windshield wiper fluid so we just had to bear it. The movie was fine — not great, and not awful. It started just at dusk, and the movie wasn’t perfectly visible at first but got sharper as the sun faded more. The real draw of the night was just the experience of being there. The entire night cost us just under $15: $10 for the car, and $4.25 for a big soda and popcorn.

Diego began shifting in his car seat, and once he opened his eyes he couldn’t get back to sleep. It probably didn’t help that he had a direct view of the film. When he started whimpering I got him out of the seat and held him in my lap. I got him to watch the stars and moon through the moon roof rather than focus on the violence of the film’s ending. He did really well, until we had to decide whether to stay for the second movie, “28 Weeks Later,” or head home. I thought we should have stayed for a bit of the second movie, until the baby got tired again. But we decided to head back. Diego didn’t want to get back in his car seat, but it was only a few minutes before he was asleep again.

I’m looking forward to going back to the drive-in when Carlos’ daughter, Itzul, comes up in August. We’ll have to come up with another way to keep Diego calm during the movie.

date afternoon

June 7, 2007

Carlos and I had our first “date” in Walla Walla in many moons. Last time we snuck off to the movies without the baby was when we saw “Pan’s Labyrinth,” before it won the Oscars and was released on video. This time we left work a wee bit early (we took a short lunch, boss, in case you’re reading) to catch “Knocked Up.” It felt sneaky to drive past the street Diego’s day care is on and not stop. We treated ourselves to popcorn and sodas, sprinkling a ton of butter and powdered jalapeno into the popcorn tub. I actually really enjoy movie outings and it was nice to be in a cool, dimly lit theater with my sweetie.  Too bad the movie was so raunchy. Okay, it was sweet and tender as well, in an “awh-shucks” kind of way. The hero of the film is a pot-smoking overgrown child in the body of a young adult, who gets his one-night stand pregnant. And she decides to keep it! I thought it was funny the way “Borat” was funny: I laughed my pants off, but I probably wouldn’t watch it again. There were just a few too many F-words, references to sex acts and body parts and testosterone-laced humor to make me put it at the top of my list. But I had a great laugh. I cracked up when the guy did mushrooms with his future bro-in-law and freaked out watching Cirque du Soleil live in Vegas. There were some great camio scenes with better known movie stars, playing themselves, because the main gal in the movie is a host for E! television.

I think my brand of film humor is more aligned with Alexander Payne flicks, like “Election” or “Citizen Ruth.” One of my favorite movies is “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” a great mockumentary.

Anyway it was great to get away with Carlos, even just for two hours out of the day. We drove to get Diego right away, and it was a great feeling to have him throw his little arms around my neck when we got there. We took him to the park for being so patient with his crazy parents who dared to sneak off to a movie without him.


April 29, 2007

I watched a great movie called “Machuca” last night. It’s a coming-of-age story told through the life of an 11-year-old privileged boy in Chile during their socialist upheval in the 70s. I got a real basic history lesson from the film, one that describes most political unrest in Latin America.


Basically, the president in power, Allende, wanted the poor to have better lives, so he began introducing socialist/marxist/communist ideals to the country. The upper-class peeps didn’t agree with having to sacrifice or have their privileges taken away, or even shared. In the movie, a few slum kids are invited to attend an elite private grade prep school. an unlikely friendship forms, the viewer gets a lesson on the class system and how disgusting it is, what poverty really looks like and how lucky some people are. The end is sad. The president ends up killing himself when the nationalist party takes over, restoring “normalcy.” The poor people basically get exterminated. It breaks my heart, except the continuation of the history lesson is that the nationalist leader who took power, Pinochet, was eventually exiled for crimes against humanity (for killing all those poor people) and Chile is now led by a socialist female president. Of course that doesn’t mean Chile doesn’t still have rich and poor. I’d love to visit one day. It’s my “neighbor” country anyway, although Peru and Chile haven’t been friendly in the past.