Posts Tagged ‘Total Recall’

How Can I Miss the 80s If They Won’t Go Away? By Richard Crouse

627Is it possible to be nostalgic for the decade that gave us Milli Vanilli and crimped hair? Apparently so. Pop culture, having exhausted the 1960’s, tired out the 70s, is now mining the Reagan years.

Last week Topher Grace, the former star of That 70s Show jumped a decade with the Blu Ray release of Take Me Home Tonight, a movie named after a 1986 hit by Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector. The movie is a tribute to the youth films of the 80s, complete with enough John Hughes spirit to make Molly Ringwald seem cool again.

I know one film does not a trend make, but Take Me Home Tonight is far from being the only 80s throwback of 2011.

Super 8, a terrific homage to the Spielberg films of the 80s was a recent box office hit. The upcoming 30 Minutes or Less, the new Jesse Eisenberg comedy uses music from Beverly Hills Cop, The Smurfs are bringing the blues to the big screen next week and soon the floodgates open with remakes of Total Recall and Fright Night (both starring Colin Farrell who, apparently, is quickly becoming an 80s pop culture evangelist) and a reimagining of The Muppets. Also, if a remake of Footloose (updated with a hashtag in its subtitle: Everybody Cut #Footloose) is a sign of the apocalypse, then look out, Armageddon is on the way.

So why the comeback?

Esquire writer Stephen Marche suggests it’s partly because “because we’re in pretty much the same socioeconomic boat as we were then (high unemployment numbers, an inspirational leader with shaky approval ratings, etc.),” which is a valid point, but I think it has more to do with that soft fuzzy glow people get when they think about their youth.

If you were eighteen in 1980 you’d be on the cusp of your mid life crisis now. Perhaps the eyesight is a bit blurrier than it once was. Having trouble hearing? Sorry didn’t catch what you said. Maybe your job sucks and the mortgage you’re paying on your ex’s house is draining your bank account. A little blast from the past can brighten the day.

The 80s were rough times— Air India Flight 182, the Iran-Iraq war, Jheri curls— but not if you were 18. You had a world of opportunity at your feet, parachute pants to buy and Pac Man to play, all set to a soundtrack of Madonna and Wang Chung. So what if it was plastic and phony? It was fun… at least that’s the way you remember it and these 80s themed movies are a way of reminding us of a time before life got too complicated.

The 80s aren’t the first epoch to get a second look. Every generation has a time they remember fondly. The 60s died at Altamont but interest in them didn’t die until recently. The boomer’s decades long fixation with the 1960s overwhelmed popular culture, squeezing out opportunities for proper reexamination of the years that followed. Now we’re playing catch up, burning through the ensuing decades so quickly that soon we may well run out of eras to be nostalgic for. It’s enough to gag you with a spoon.


total_recallFor years philosophers have contemplated the question, “Who am I?” “Total Recall,” a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie starring the less muscled Colin Farrell, asks the same thing, but does so with guns, three breasted women and explosions galore.

Set in a dystopian world where most of the world is uninhabitable, Farrell plays a troubled factory worker desperate to escape a life of grinding drudgery. Without telling his wife (Kate Beckinsale) he goes to Rekall Corp. to have a virtual vacation. They sell implanted memories, like videogames for the mind. But something goes wrong and soon our hero is thrown into a deadly world of intrigue where he can’t be sure what is real and what isn’t.

The original “Total Recall” was simultaneously beaten up on release for its level of violence and praised for its complex story. The same can’t be said for the remake. The body count is still high, but the story plays more like a high tech version of “The Fugitive” than a sci fi mind bender.

It’s a bit obvious in its set-up. Characters say things like, “Are you actually happy with the way your life turned out?” as Farrell grimaces and mulls over a memory implant and the scene breakdown goes something like this: exposition – action – more exposition – EXPLOSION! – gobbledygook – action – action – kiss – action – stare into the camera – kiss #2 – closing credits.

But having said that it works pretty well as a chase movie set against a “Blade Runner” backdrop. Farrell is much more of an everyman than the cartoony Arnold, but is convincing as he runs and jumps, shoots and stabs. Which is good because that’s essentially all this movie is. The sci fi falls flat, but the afore mentioned running, jumping, shooting and stabbing attempts to keep the eye occupied, even if the brain isn’t.

Your humor center won’t be stimulated either. Between scenes of carnage the original had some funny moments to break the tension. The legendary three-breasted hooker raised a smile, for instance, but this movie is more po-faced, taking itself a bit too seriously while intoning standard action movie lines like, “You really know how to pick ‘em.”

You can also tell this is a big American action movie when the camera luxuriates over people getting blown up, innocent bystanders being mowed down and explosions! explosions! explosions! while the one glimpse of nudity is dispensed of within 2 seconds. This movie clearly values bullets over breasts.

One thing the new movie does better is hand over roles to women. The original reduced its female characters to set decoration, whereas Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are given meaty, action packed parts. Beckinsale uses all he tricks she learned on the “Underworld” movies, kicking butt and taking names in very scene she’s in, and while Biel won’t need to wake up early on Academy Award day, she hands a physically energetic performance.

What this reimagining of “Total Recall” lacks—that would be imagination—it more than makes up in visceral thrills and action.

It’s not déjà vu, memory plots are all too common By Richard Crouse In Focus Metro Canada August 2, 2012

total-recall-poster-colin-farrellThis weekend a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci fi favorite Total Recall hits screens with Colin Farrell replacing the Governator. Unlike the original, Farrell is more mental than muscles, but like its predecessor it is a story about memories, some real, some implanted. The movie asks the question, Is anything real, or are we watching the memory Farrell ordered?

Memory is an intangible, a mental process to attain, amass, remember and retrieve information. Not exactly the most cinematic subject, but nonetheless filmmakers have used memory as the backbone for movies for decades.

Most memory movies use amnesia as a starting point. The loss of memory propels the plot of the Hitchcock classic Spellbound. Gregory Peck plays a man whose guilt at the death of his younger brother causes amnesia. The movie broke box office records when it opened but Hitchcock dismissed it as “just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis.”

Who could forget Matt Damon as one of the most popular (and violent) amnesiacs of recent years? In the Bourne Identity he is Jason Bourne, a CIA operative who loses his memory while on a mission. As he tries to regain his memory, he discovers he has a unique and deadly skill set. As he brings his past into focus, he doesn’t like what he discovers. “Everything I found out,” her says, “I want to forget.”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind presented a different take on memory loss. In this strange and romantic Jim Carrey (he also once played an amnesic in The Majestic) movie people pay to have painful memories erased from their minds.

Short-term memory loss has provided the backdrop for comedies like the world’s only brain-damage-rom-com, 50 First Dates—Adam Sandler woos Drew Barrymore even tough she forgets who he is everyday—and complex thrillers like Memento.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, Memento stars Guy Pearce as a man with short-term memory loss, who uses notes and tattoos to hunt the person he’s convinced killed his wife. “Facts, not memories,” he says, “that’s how you investigate.” This brain-teasing film is deliberately disorienting and cannot be forgotten once seen.

Finally, two romantic and sad movies explore Alzheimer’s disease. The Notebook pairs James Garner and Gena Rowland in a heartbreaking study of love and memory loss while Away From Her sees Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent long term marriage torn apart by the disease.