Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bad Movie Review!

Our first subject is the film Streets of Fire (1984), featuring Diane Lane at her finest! She plays a rock star who does big, theatrical renditions of Meat Loaf-style numbers (her songs in the movie were penned by Jim Steinman--Meat Loaf's writing partner. Wait--why the hell do I know this?)

So Diane--sorry--Ellen Aim (the best rock star name they could come up with, apparently) gets kidnapped in the middle of a performance by an Evil Gang led by Raven (Willem Dafoe, doing his usual creepy psycho routine). This worries Reva, owner of the local coffee shop--(a shitty one, evidently, because she never has any customers--or maybe Starbucks just moved in down the block). Anyhoo, Reva decides there's only one man who can deliver Ellen from Raven and his Evil Gang--her brother, Tom Cody (Michael Pare). So Tom blows back into town (he left years ago, cause he had things to do, dammit), and agrees to help rescue Ellen. He sort of balks at first--not because he's a wuss, but because he and Ellen (surprise!) used to have a thang back in the day and he doesn't want to get involved with her again, cause he's tough like that. But, luckily for Ellen, he's also sensitive. And so Our Hero sets out on his mission to save the Fair Maiden and restore order to the Universe.

Okay, unless you're five, you can probably guess where this is going, so I'll cut to the chase and just talk about the best parts. Where to begin? Well, aside from Diane Lane's fabulous gowns, I loved the weird sexual tension between Reva and a very butch Amy Madigan (she plays a drifter who joins Tom on his quest). I have a theory that a lesbian sub-plot was cut from the film, probably deemed too racy for audiences in 1984. And speaking of, there's also a hot scene for pree-verts like me where Diane Lane is lashed to a bed, squirming, waiting for her Knight in Shining Armour (or maybe his sister? Come to think of it, why would Reva give a rat's ass about a kidnapped rock star, or her brother's ex-girlfriend, for that matter, unless she had a vested interest in--you know what? Never mind. I'm probably reading too much into this. But still...

Lesbian undertones aside, Streets of Fire has a lot to recommend it. There are motorcycle chases, big musical numbers, dramatic kissing-in-the-rain sequences, Diane Lane being hot, Michael Pare being tough-yet-sensitive, Willem Dafoe being psycho and a hilarious chain fight between Raven and Our Hero (in the rain, natch). It must also be noted that Willem Dafoe's villain has a very odd fashion sense--it's sort of a gay vampire look. Throughout much of the movie he's parading around in tight black leather pants, leather suspenders (!), no shirt, and that hair. He's got a disturbing widow's peak going on, which I assume is supposed to make him look menacing but it's really just sort of distracting. Marcus (my bad movie buddy!) and I had a good time making fun of him. Every time Willem got himself worked up into a big Mad Scene, Marcus would yell out "Bob Crane's a loser!" (a reference to Dafoe's character in the Bob Crane biopic Auto Focus, which is a quite good film, actually).

So even if you're not a bad movie fanatic, you could do a lot worse on a slow Saturday night. And if you are a bad movie fanatic, by all means, run right out and add this one to your collection.

Especially if you're into lesbians.

And here's Marcus's side of things (thanks dude! You rock!)

My memories, such as they are, of Streets of Fire pale in comparison to
Andie's. She's already laid out the plot, so let me elaborate on some
aspects of the film that actually did stay with me, long after the film
had finished.

For one, the movie was very, very dark and all the streets were very,
very wet. There was no fire to be found on the streets, but "Streets of
Rain" doesn't really make a compelling film title, does it? Filmmakers
seem to think that dark, wet streets infer that the tale you're
watching takes place on the wrong side of the tracks. But how wrong of a side
could it be if Rick Moranis is one of the toughest characters in town?

That's right, Rick Moranis. He plays Diane Lane's manager, and
suposedly he's a dick. But it's Rick Moranis, people! From Honey, I Shrunk
the Kids! His build alone screams "nebbish". And he doesn't get to
sing, which for you Little Shop of Horrors fans is a big let-down.

But even Rick Moranis, bad ass that he is, is scared of Willem Dafoe.
Like Andie, I didn't understand his wardrobe. Obviously, with it being
nighttime and having just rained, it must be pretty cold outside. So
why is he running around with no shirt on? Doesn't he know he'll catch
cold? And it's pretty obvious that he's just been sick, since his
pants are so big that he needs suspenders. Either that or he's recently
lost a lot of weight. Maybe he was on the Atkins Diet and hadn't made it
to Kohl's yet to buy some new clothes.

So DaFoe kidnaps Diane Lane and blah blah blah. The main reason I
wanted to watch this film was because of my love for Diane Lane. Sigh.
Diane Lane. I can't believe she married a Goonie. I'd watch anything
with her in it. (Like Six Pack, which is another film Andie will
probably write about soon.) I'd even see that movie where she buys a run-down
house in Italy and lears all about life and love while remodeling her
kitchen. Needless to say, once I discovered the part my dear sweet
Diane played in Streets of Fire, I was disappointed. She was on screen for
about ten seconds at the beginning before she's immediately kidnapped
by Dafoe. Then the film concentrates on Moranis and his friends trying
to get her back. She reappears in a dream sequence near the middle of
the film, if I'm not mistaken, then disappears again until the end,
when she's saved and all that was wrong is right again. What the hell? I
thought she was the star!

The true lead of the movie belongs to Michael Pare, he of Eddie and the
Cruisers - and Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! - fame. What
the hell happened to Michael Pare? Did Hollywood executives realize that
there really was no need to have a Tom Berringer knock-off when the
real Tom Berringer was ready and willing to work in anything they sent his
way? Pare's acting in Streets of Fire could best be described as

This movie's true claim to fame is that it introduced the song "I Can
Dream About You" to the world. Of all the songs by overachiever Jim
Steinman that were in the film, the one that turns out to be remembered is
a little throwaway pop song by some guy named Dan Hartman. I bet
Steinman was pretty pissed off about that. Maybe he should have gotten Meat
Loaf to act in the film. (But they would have had to call it "Bat out
of Streets of Fire of Hell". At least then the "Fire" part of the
title would have made sense.)

Overall, it wasn't a great movie. It lacked two main aspects I thought
it would have: coherence and Diane Lane. Still, any film that posits
that Rick Moranis is an asskicker is one that's worth finding.