A Fish Called Wanda

A Fish Called Wanda. MGM/Prominent Pictures 1988.

Before watching the movie:

Often, one never realizes how little one knows about something until one has to describe it. I know this is a riotously funny movie with John Cleese. Possibly his first big thing after Fawlty Towers. I think I’ve heard something about some character’s fish friends. I did not know until I decided to watch it that it was about three crooks trying to find out where the captured fourth stashed the loot.

I almost called Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline up and comers, but while they’re younger and more current than Cleese and Michael Palin, I think they were actually pretty well established by the late 80s.

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Without a Clue

Without a Clue. ITC Entertainment Group, 1988.

Before watching the movie:

I used to make a point of saying why I chose a movie, but I stopped because it was often just “it was on the shelf/streaming service”. However, this one has a particularly unusual path. Several years ago, I got a CD of Halloween-themed film music. One of the tracks was “Super Sleuth, from Without A Clue”. The name didn’t fit, the music didn’t fit, the source didn’t fit, it seemed an all around poor choice. However, it directed my attention to a movie that had the potential to fit my tastes very well. I don’t think I got around to looking it up on my rental service for another few years, but whenever I added it, it’s taken until now to get to the top of the list.

Frequent readers of this blog should know that I have a particular attraction to variants of Sherlock Holmes stories. I’m intrigued by the halfway application of the literary agent hypothesis, but mostly I just want to see Michael Caine play a bad actor trying to be Holmes. Ben Kingsley seems a terrific choice to play a straight man in a double act, and Michael Caine is terrific in everything.

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They Live

They Live. Alive Films 1988.

Before watching the movie:

I’ve heard this movie talked up a lot, but I’m not sure exactly how much of it I know. Sometimes it sounds like the most famous development doesn’t have much to do with it, sometimes it sounds like the whole movie.

The theme of glasses or other visual devices showing the true nature of things is a common one in literature, though I can’t think of any notable ones right now, except I think I remember something about a  Seeing Stone in The Spiderwick Chronicles, but I haven’t seen that.

I’m going to pretend I chose this movie this week in honor of Google’s announcement of Project Glass.

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Puss in Boots

Puss In Boots. Golan-Globus Productions 1988.

Before watching the movie:

Welcome to Yesterday’s Movies’ Holiday Gift Guide for Adults Who Always Get The Wrong Thing. There are less than ten shopping days to disappoint a young person close to you this Christmas, and if you’re looking for a movie that’s sure to get a reaction, you could do worse (better?) than the 1988 Puss In Boots.

I have never heard of this film before I found it, but if your kid was expecting Ant0nio Banderas’s feisty CG kitty in some kind of adventure involving Humpty Dumpty before Puss ever met Shrek (I haven’t seen it… yet), this is guaranteed to cause some sort of emotional setback. This movie features Christopher Walken as the voice of the cat in Live Action musical telling of the original Puss in Boots story. There’s potential there, but also so much room to fall short.

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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Orion Pictures 1988.

Before watching the movie:

No reputation of this movie has reached me. It was a recommendation based on other films I’ve had interest in, and I picked it up because I thought it was a different movie with George C. Scott.

This sounds like a premise with great potential though. Michael Caine is a scam artist trying to get Steve Martin from horning in on his turf. Since I hadn’t heard of it before, it can’t be as good as I expect, but it sounds like fun.

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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Columbia Pictures 1988.

Before watching the movie:

Terry Gilliam made some movies in the 80s. Specifically, he made three movies about dreamers, which Gilliam has come to call the “Trilogy of Imagination.” Three different movies about protagonists of different ages trying to escape the oppressive world around them. I’ve already seen Time Bandits (the dreamer as a child) and Brazil (the dreamer in middle age). Baron Munchausen is an older man going on fanciful adventures that may not exactly be accurate.

I’m not sure how I expect this film to make me feel. Time Bandits was fun and the end was depressing but hopeful, Brazil was a long downward spiral through madness, and Twelve Monkeys was depressing throughout. “Munchausen” looks like some good fun, but I don’t know how much of that is a misrepresentation for marketing purposes.

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Rain Man

Rain Man. United Artists 1988.

Before watching the movie:

Until just a few minutes ago, all I knew about this film was that Dustin Hoffman (too soon for another Hoffman? Nah.) plays an autistic man in a praiseworthy manner, and it’s about the relationship between him and his brother. I didn’t even realize until now that the brother was played by Tom Cruise.  I was worried that the plot would be too much like Of Mice and Men for me, but it looks more like it’s about Cruise’s character being taught to be a better person and coming to love his brother.

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