1001 Films: The Ice Storm (1997)

“Your family is the void you emerge from, and the place you return to when you die. And that’s the paradox – the closer you’re drawn back in, the deeper into the void you go.

There are so many films that we watch are really just about family. It’s about all of those awkward pauses that you find yourself having in conversations with your family that in any other context with any other person that you don’t know so well would truly be awkward, but since it’s with your family it’s ok. The Ice Storm is a film about the family and how no matter how messed up certain things can be at any given moment somehow they all manage to work out and at the end of the night you’re no longer hating your brother or your son or your mother anymore.

While the film delves into the realm of forgiveness within the family it’s plain that we can’t get there without first wandering around the realm of mischief. So we have a husband fooling around with his good friend’s wife and neighbour, we have a daughter who’s being sexually curious with the neighbour’s sons, a wife who’s very unsure about a lot of things in her life and seems a little out of sorts and a son who’s trying his best to get the girl he has a crush on before his roommate happens to sleep with her. With this all rolling around the same household we know that we’re in for a special kind of result when everything tries it’s best to come crashing together all at once.

While we see the whole thing unravelling in a way that only can be explained by “it’s the 70s” at the same time what grabs you and keeps you with the film is how much you see each one of the members of the family wanting it to stay together. You can see Ben (Kevin Kline) and Elena (Joan Allen) struggling to want to look at each other every morning. He’s unhappy and she knows something is going on, but at the end of the day they know deep down inside that they’ll get past it and it’ll work out. At any given moment one, or the two, of them will explode but only so that they can fix it back together.

Who also plays a major part in the film are the Hood’s neighbours and good friends. The family that’s barely even seem to be working with a distant father and a couple of eccentric loner sons who just don’t seem to fit in the real world; one is obsessed with “molecules” and the other with blowing things up. The only thing the two shares in common is an odd fascination with Wendy (Christina Ricci) that slowly becomes sexual.

The film intellectualizes everything, from a discussion of the insanity of the concept of this new fad called a “key” party to the Fantastic Four and that’s what makes the family intriguing. So eventually when all of these things that they intellectualize about actual comes into being you get to watch how they react to the reality of it.

The film is just one of those films that I enjoy because it introduces me to people. As Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting, “I can’t learn anything from you that I can’t get from a fucking book… unless you choose to start talking about you,” and that’s the number one reason I love movies, because eventually we get to talking about you.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

1001 Films: Ghostbusters (1984)


Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) have been booted from their jobs at the university. They all decided to go into business for themselves as “Ghostbusters”, where they catch and destroy paranormal anomalies throughout the city of New York.

When I think of the term “classic film” the first names which come to mind are: Casablanca, Psycho and The Apartment. To somehow add a film like Ghostbusters just doesn’t seem right in certain ways. It’s a film that I watched repeatedly as a child and can’t seem to separate from that moment in my life. It is one of the best examples of a film that I can’t seem to remove the nostalgic goggles for whenever I watch it.

Murray is the likeable asshole who if you’re not one of his close friends, or a pretty woman, he won’t give you anything but some very harsh sarcasm, Aykroyd is the child that’s refused to grow up, and Ramis is the guy who looks at everything as seriously as a plague (i.e. the real scientist of the bunch). The dynamic is what makes the film work. If you can’t buy these three starkly different people being able to stand each other day in and day out then this movie will never hit you the same way that it does everyone of those bloggers who keep posting all of those ridiculous news articles begging for the third film to (or not to) be made.

When you end up adding Janine (Annie Potts) as the quick lipped receptionist, Winston (Ernie Hudson) as the new guy who just sees this as a job, and Dana (Sigourney Weaver) as the first client and Venkman’s love interest and eventual damsel in distress you have yourself a serviceable ridiculous 80s comedy movie with a sprinkle of horror moments added. The movie chronicles not only the rise of the Ghostbusters as a corporation, but also the relationship that they have with Dana as a client.

The movie seats itself in a horror based reality, existence of ghosts and demons, but lives off its characters and the comedy that comes from them. If it weren’t for how Venkman mocks Spengler and Stantz then it would never have made as much of a stamp on history. Why I don’t view this film as classic and historically relevant in cinema is that I think that comedy isn’t that uncommon back then. Especially when you look at the rest of Ivan Reitman’s films back then, including Stripes and Meatballs. It gives Bill Murray’s character something to point and laugh at and we as an audience can’t stop going, “he’s right,” so we laugh and when all is said and done we leave with a smile on our face.

Not to say this is a bad thing, but it leads me to question as to why this movie made this list of historic must see films. Is it the fact that the movie ended up being one of those that ended up becoming so a part of the world’s popular culture? That’s the only reason I can think of. While I doubt I couldn’t make a personal movie list like this without mentioning this film somehow I feel like the movie is being misrepresented and will end up being misunderstood by future generations. How many people who didn’t grow up with this movie actually love it as much as those people who watched it to fall asleep to every night at the age of eight and wishing they had one of those proton packs running around catching ghosts actually love this movie?

IMDB says 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes says 94%
I say 7.0/10