Tag Archives: John Landis

Into the Night (1985) 4/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 77.2
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Duration: 115 mins
Director: John Landis
Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Carmen Argenziano

A wild and trippy furlough into the LA night as envisaged within the quirky mind of John Landis at the height of his powers. Jeff Goldblum stars as an aerospace engineer suffering from insomnia, marital discord, and a general malaise. Michelle Pfeiifer is the confident and plucky damsel in distress who jumps into his car on lonely sleepless night only to see them both pursued by a peculiar group of foreign gangsters led by the director himself. Ron Koslow may have written this wonderfully off-kilter comedy thriller but make no mistake, it’s Landis’ world we are thrown into where the ride is as enjoyable as it is unique. The variety of peripheral and support characters is a treat to behold as are their various realisations at the hands of a brilliantly counter-intuitive cast of actors (David Bowie’s bizarre hit-man alone makes this one worth the watch). But paramount among the movie’s virtues is the foundation in which the plot is rooted. Convincing the audience to tag along on such a meandering journey isn’t simply about ingeniously engineered set-pieces (which Into the Night offers in spades) but a weight of reality that could see a normal Joe’s life shunted into hyper-reality. Like Scorsese did that very same year in After Hours, Landis places huge faith in his leading man’s ability to strike a paradoxical balance between delicacy and sturdiness. And in achieving that, Jeff Goldlum becomes the rock against which the delightful insanity can repeatedly crash. If anything, Landis ups the ante on Scorsese by adding a similarly finely tuned lead performance into the mix which not only bolsters her co-star’s but offers the madness a second pillar to rest on. Pfeiffer is nothing short of exquisite in a feisty reformulation of the femme fatale trope adding as much solidity as she does intrigue. And it helps not a little that her and Goldblum click like few male-female on-screen partnerships have! It’s all wrapped up in a rather pretty package too as Landis and his director of photography Robert Paynter shoot it in the soft night glow of 1980’s L.A. and soundtrack it to Ira Newborn’s equally contemporaneous (not to mention sumptuous) electronic score. A must see!

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Animal House (1978) 4.14/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 77.8
Genre: Comedy
Duration: 109 mins
Director: John Landis
Stars: John Belushi, Karen Allen, Tom Hulce, Donald Sutherland

John Landis’ genre defining screwball comedy about a good-for-nothing frat house that puts itself at odds with rival fraternities and their crusty old dean is 90 minutes of deranged fun. Whether it’s the horse in the dean’s office, Donald Sutherland’s brilliant cameo as the apathetic pot smoking professor or John Belushi’s Bluto doing the human zit, the memorable characters and incidents of Animal House will leave you howling with laughter. Landis handles the whole thing with just the right amount of irreverence and none involved shy away from the more controversial aspects to the humour. Written by Harold Ramis (Second City TV) and starring the golden boy of Saturday Night Live, Belushi, this one was never going to miss the mark. However, nobody could have foreseen what a phenomenon it became. If you’ve seen it before, see it again. If you’ve never seen it and you’re into carefree comedy that knows no bounds, don’t let another day go by without seeing it.

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